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Banksy artwork depicting chimps in British parliament sells for £9.8 million

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Banksy artwork depicting chimps in British parliament sells for £9.8 million
Copyright  REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

A large canvas painted by Banksy, depicting monkeys sitting in the British House of Commons, sold on Thursday for more than £9.8 million (€11,112,609), according to Sotheby's.

That's a record for the mysterious British street artist.

The artwork, "Devolved Parliament", shows chimpanzees sitting in place of politicians in the UK's parliament. Its worth before the auction was estimated between £1.5 million and £2 million.

During the bidding, which lasted 13 minutes, the auctioneer said that "history was being made", and indeed it was: the painting sold for a hammer price of £8.5 million, to which fees are added giving a final price of £9,879,500.

"Record price for a Banksy painting set at auction tonight. Shame I didn't still own it," Banksy wrote on Instagram beside a post quoting art critic Robert Hughes about the value of artworks.

"... The price of a work of art is now part of its function, its new job is to sit on the wall and get more expensive. Instead of being the common property of humankind the way a book is, art becomes the particular property of someone who can afford it," Hughes was quoted as saying.

Before the sale was made on Thursday, Banksy's record at an auction had reached $1,870,000 (€1,704,692) for "Keep it Spotless", sold at Sotheby's in New York in 2008.

"Devolved Parliament" is a 4-meters-long painting, which according to Sotheby's makes it Banksy's largest known canvas.

It was painted in 2009, but that hasn't stopped many commentators from comparing the scene to recent events in British politics - namely, Brexit and the tense exchanges the UK's exit from the EU has created in the House of Commons in the last years.

When the auction was announced, Banksy explained on Instagram what had inspired him: “I made this ten years ago. Bristol museum have just put it back on display to mark Brexit day. Laugh now, but one day no-one will be in charge”.

The Bristol-born artist, who keeps his identity a secret, is known for his political or social-commentary graffiti work that has popped up in cities around the world.

This sale comes a year after "Girl with Balloon", another Banksy canvas, shredded itself in front of shocked onlookers at a Sotheby's auction at the very moment it was sold.

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