For the second year in a row, Banksy dominated the Sotheby’s Frieze Week evening sale of contemporary art in London. The secretive British artist’s massive piece of political satire, Devolved Parliament (2009), vaulted its high estimate of £2 million ($2.4 million) to eventually hammer down at £8.5 million ($10.4 million), or £9.8 million ($12.1 million) with fees, setting a new Banksy auction record. It tied with a large Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, Pyro (1984), for the night’s top price.
- Banksy’s Devolved Parliament (2009) surpassed its high estimate as well as the artist’s existing auction record—$1.8 million, dating back to 2008—in a matter of seconds. Bidders on the phone with Sotheby’s specialists and in the room gradually drove the price up to £5 million, after which clients calling in to Branczik and head of evening sale Emma Baker competed with each other and a man near the back of the salesroom in £100,000 increments. Finally, after 13 minutes, Baker’s bidder prevailed, snatching it at a hammer price of £8.5 million ($10.4 million), or £9.8 million ($12.1 million) with fees.
- Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Pyro (1984) landed at the same price as the Banksy, but fell shy of its on-request estimate of more than £9 million ($11 million). After a brief competition between phone bidders, it sold to a buyer on the line with Branczik for a hammer price of £8.5 million ($10.4 million), or £9.8 million ($12.1 million) with fees.