3 works by Banksy, are coming up for auction from the collection of Robbie Williams. Kissing Coppers (est. £2.5-3.5 million), the artist’s iconic portrayal of two British policemen in a passionate embrace, Vandalised Oils (Choppers) (est.
£2.5-3.5 million) and Girl with Balloon, “the nation’s favourite artwork” (es. £2-3 million), will make their auction debuts in the first edition of The Now Evening Auction in London on 2nd March. Platforming artworks executed in the last 20 years by the most cutting-edge artists of today and tomorrow, the sale follows the “white-glove” success of the auction’s first iteration at Sotheby’s New York in November 2021.
Like so many of Banksy’s most seminal works, the motif of Girl with Balloon, Vandalised Oils (Choppers) and Kissing Coppers (2005) were unveiled on the streets, the latter first emerging on the exterior of The Prince Albert Pub in Brighton in 2004. Once a regular stop on the city’s tourist trail, the work may be interpreted as Banksy’s advocation for the public acceptance of homosexuality – a claim supported by its location in Brighton, which is celebrated as the UK’s LGBTQ+ capital. Following repeat vandalism, the original mural was removed in 2014. The Now Evening Auction will mark the first time a Kissing Coppers on canvas has been offered on the secondary market.
In a similar vein, Girl with Balloon (2006) made its debut under Waterloo Bridge in 2002, just one year after Banksy’s first exhibition held in a tunnel on Rivington Street in London. Almost 20 years later, the image would capture the public’s imagination once more after ‘self-destructing’ in Sotheby’s London saleroom, becoming a cultural phenomenon overnight. In its new form, the shredded artwork became Love is in the Bin, which sold for a record-breaking £18.6 million / $25.4 million in October 2021. Williams’ Girl with Balloon is depicted on metal and is the first of its kind to appear at auction.
In Banksy’s Vandalised Oils (Choppers) from 2005, two armed military helicopters disrupt a serene pastoral landscape. Hailing from the artist’s ‘Vandalised Oils’ series – each of which sees graffiti sensibilities debase a found oil painting with an emblem of modernity – it has been suggested that the painting responds to the controversy surrounding the Iraq War, and the accusations made that coalition military actions were motivated by the country’s supply of oil. The work’s title, therefore, refers not only to the materiality of the piece but also to the political climate of the time. A recurrent motif in his oeuvre, Banksy’s depiction of the United States ‘Boeing AH-64 Apache’ helicopter first appeared as a sprayed mural in London at the Whitecross Street Market in 2002.
Robbie Williams told Financial Times he is selling the three works by Banksy to finance his own “art project” that he will launch this year and to free up some space to reinvest in “new art from new people.”
Girl with Balloon, Kissing Coppers and Vandalised Oils (Choppers) will go on exhibition in Sotheby’s New York galleries for a special six-day preview, before embarking on a global tour to Hong Kong and London for its final public view.
New York: 22nd-27th January 1334 York Ave, New York, NY 10021
Hong Kong: 8th-9th February 5/F, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
London: 22nd February – 2nd March 34-35 New Bond Street, London, W1A 2AA
THE NOW EVENING AUCTION London: 2nd March 2022 34-35 New Bond Street, London, W1A 2AA