Banksy painting sells for $1.7m breaking NZ price record for contemporary art

An original Banksy painting that sold for $ 1.7 million in Auckland last night is the most expensive work by a contemporary artist to ever sell in New Zealand.

Banksy’s ‘Keep it real’ sold for $ 1.7 million.
Photo: Supplied by the International Art Center

The 30 cm square painting by the anonymous British artist shows a chimpanzee carrying a sandwich board that says “Keep it real”.

The work entitled “Keep it real” has been predicted to raise between $ 600,000 and $ 1 million.

A fierce bidding war at the International Art Center in Parnell cost more than $ 1.4 million, and the buyer’s premium increased the price again to $ 1.7 million.

Five Banksy screen prints were also for sale last night.

Richard Thomson, director of the International Arts Center, said Banksy’s work is very popular with people, and the fact that he’s anonymous adds to the mystique.

“He really is the modern Michelangelo, every century has its artist, Banksy is this century, Andy Warhol was the 20th century, Van Gogh was the 19th.”

He said a Banksy painting sold for $ 30 million at Christie’s last week.

“So our price was comparatively low – but so was the painting.”

In 2018, the canvas of a Banksy painting that had already been sold at Sotheby’s in London for more than £ 1mn unexpectedly passed a shredder installed in the frame.

When asked if buyers should be careful after the shredder incident, Thomson didn’t necessarily say.

“Rumor has it that this painting is now worth three or four times more just because it’s being shredded.

“We were hoping that this would tear itself apart last night, but it didn’t and only because we know it would add value, it’s part of the art, this work tears itself apart, it’s part of the artwork “It wasn’t supposed to happen before the day it was auctioned.”

He said “Keep it real” was sold by a New Zealander, and so is most of the Banksy paintings sold in that country.

“Most of them were kiwis who lived in London between 2000 and 2008 and returned home with their goods.”

Banksy prints were pretty affordable at stalls like the one on Carnaby Street at the time, he said.

“I’ve seen screen prints, I sold screen prints for a few hundred thousand dollars that were 90 pounds new.”

He said last night that one of the Banksy prints cost $ 390,000.

Thomson said the Covid-19 pandemic has worked in favor of New Zealand, which is hosting this auction.

“A lot of these Banksy’s would have gone offshore, but because auction houses around the world had to shut down, Kiwis still had to sell their wares, so they trusted us to do so, and we now have an international reputation as a Reseller elaborated. “”

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