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 Banksy, street art, Bonhams
Banksy Monkey Masterpiece Original Resurfaces - ArtLyst Article image

Banksy Monkey Masterpiece Original Resurfaces

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Original poster of Banksy’s ominous monkey image unveiled, destined for public sale

Everybody knows Banksy's image of a monkey wearing a sandwich board with the ominous words: ‘Laugh now, but one day we'll be in charge’. It has become a near-iconic image, reproduced across the world on t-shirts, posters, publications – you name it. And now the original artwork has been rediscovered and is up for public sale.

Dealer John Brandler, who runs Brandler Galleries on Coptfold Road, Brenton, is in possession of the sole remaining original artwork that created almost a decade ago. These early versions were not stencilled in the usual manner, but drawn onto paper and then pasted onto walls. John Brandler traced the four-foot high poster back to a unnamed collector who has held it since it was made.

Mr Brandler explained how: ‘Banksy's originals were four foot high on paper. Others were stencilled directly onto walls. But he kept one of the original paper ones back. And it's here.’ For Brandler, the work is a ‘lost modern masterpiece’, and said that discovering it after years of research was like finding a unknown Picasso.

And its not just the artistic merit that has got Brandlerall a-flutter, with the dealer believing that the artwork could fetch as much as £125,000. And this is surely a conservative estimation, with a later version – commissioned for the interior of the Ocean Rooms Night Club in Brighton – making a massive £228,000 in 2008.

A recent auction auction of Urban Art was held at Bonhams saw Banksy artworks make nearly half a million pounds. It featured 17 art works by the internationally renowned graffiti artist, and it was the first time that some of the artwork has been up for auction, with many pieces fetching some serious pre-sale estimations.

Works such as ‘Leopard and Barcode’, which has which has never before been seen at auction, attracted a pre-sale estimate of £60,000 – £80,000, went under the hammer at the high end, selling for an impressive £75,650. But the real show stealer of the night was ‘Girl and Balloon’ – a work painted on the cardboard back of an Ikea piece of furniture. Estimated to go for between £15,000-£25,000, it exceeded all expectations, fetching an incredible £73,250 – that’s five times the estimate!

Alan Montgomery, Urban Art Specialist at Bonhams said that interest in Banksy’s work is still very high: ‘It seems that the public just can’t get enough of him, and his continued anonymity, even following last year’s Oscar Nomination, only adds to his enigma.’

Banksy's work typically includes satirical social and political commentary, and ranges from murals to sculpture and installation, often playing with the contextual aspects of the work. The artist's first solo show was held in 2002 at Los Angeles' 33 1/3 Gallery, and in 2003 he was commissioned to design to cover of Blur's ThinkTank. Today, Banksy's work appears internationally; most notably, he painted nine sardonic images on the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier. In Summer 2009, Banksy took over the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery with an exhibition attracting over 300,000 visitors and hour-long queues all the way down the road. Most recently the artist has experimented with film, achieving an Oscar nomination for his documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop.

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