Banksy's Monet-Inspired Painting Sells for Nearly $10 Million at Auction
Banksy’s take on a famous impressionist painting by Claude Monet that served as the popular street artist's commentary on environmental pollution has sold at auction for nearly $10 million.
The painting — titled "Show Me the Monet" — sold to an unidentified bidder at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday night for 7.6 million pounds, or about $9.8 million, according to Sotheby's.
The auction house said the sale surpassed the painting's upper pre-sale estimate of 5 million pounds, or $6.5 million.
The sale marks the second-highest price ever paid for a work by the notorious British street artist, whose identity has never been officially revealed, according to the Associated Press.
The only other Banksy work to sell for more money was his piece depicting the British parliament populated by chimpanzees, which sold for more than $12 million last year, the AP reported.
In "Show Me the Monet," which Banksy crafted in 2005, the artist added abandoned shopping carts and an orange traffic cone to Monet's famous rendering of a Japanese-style footbridge and water lilies in his garden at Giverny.
The oil on canvas painting was part of the "Crude Oils: A Gallery of Re-mixed Masterpieces, Vandalism and Vermin" exhibition, which saw Banksy reimagine famous works by other artists, including Edward Hopper, Jack Vettriano and Vincent van Gogh, according to Sotheby's.
"The vandalized paintings reflect life as it is now," Banksy said in 2005, according to Sotheby's. "The real damage done to our environment is not done by graffiti writers and drunken teenagers, but by big business… exactly the people who put gold-framed pictures of landscapes on their walls and try to tell the rest of us how to behave."
The auction house said that the purchase came after a "lively and competitive 9-minute bidding battle between clients from around the world."
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Banksy has used his artistic talents and voice to spread a message about the novel respiratory illness.
In July, the famed artist posted a video to Instagram seemingly of himself spraying graffiti on the walls and doors of the London metro system, encouraging people to wear masks during the current health crisis.
However, shortly after the clip was posted, the artwork was removed by the Transport for London (TFL), which cited its "strict anti-graffiti policy" as the reason for taking it down.
"We appreciate the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings, which the vast majority of customers on our transport network are doing. In this particular case, the work was removed some days ago due to our strict anti-graffiti policy," a TFL spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement at the time.
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Earlier this year in May, Banksy also paid tribute to the nurses and doctors working around the clock to save lives during the pandemic.
In an Instagram post, the elusive Brit revealed a painting that depicts a young boy playing with a toy nurse whose arms are outstretched as if she were flying through the sky. In the background, a garbage bin is filled with the boy's Batman and Spider-Man action figures.
Banksy gifted the piece to the University Hospital Southampton in England, according to the BBC.
The mysterious artist also left a note for the hospital's staff to express his gratitude for their efforts during the outbreak, which has killed many around the world.
"Thanks for all you're doing," the note read. "I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it's only black and white."
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