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Banksy painting sells for a record $12.2 million

Banksy's painting "Devolved Parliament" depicts chimpanzees as members of the British House of Commons.
Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

The $12.2 million proffered at a Sotheby's auction for Banksy's "Devolved Parliament," which depicts members of the British House of Commons as chimpanzees, smashed the artist's previous auction record of $1.9 million.

Why it matters: Banksy is the most important and most popular name in the white-hot field of street art. It was a year ago that his "Girl with Balloon" self-destructed in a spectacular prank after a final gavel bid of $1.4 million.

My thought bubble: "Devolved Parliament" is not a particularly good work, but it’s very big, which matters a lot in the art market. What’s more, genuine Banksy paintings come on the market very rarely.

  • This one’s value lies not so much in its quality, but more in its status as a collector’s item.

The bottom line: Compared with the $14.7 million that was spent on a sophomoric painting by the American artist KAWS early this year, $12.2 million for the Banksy looks like a veritable bargain.

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