Banksy’s Artwork Depicting Chimpanzees as MPs Sells for Record-Breaking £9.88m

Banksy’s satirical painting that depicts MPs in the House of Commons as chimpanzees sold for £9,879,500 (US$12.1m) at Sotheby’s in London, setting a new auction record for the artist.

Titled Devolved Parliament, the painting was painted in 2009 and was exhibited in the Banksy versus Bristol Museum exhibition at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in the same year. The show attracted more than 300,000 visitors and became one of the top 10 most visited exhibitions in the world in 2009.

Measuring 276x446 cm, the artwork is the largest known canvas by Banksy. It was offered at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London with an estimate of £1.5m-£2m. It was hammered down at £8.5m after 13 minutes of bidding and sold to the telephone bidder of Emma Baker, Head of Evening Sale, London. The painting fetched £9,879,500 after premium.

Emma Baker, Head of Evening Sale, London

Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Europe

Street art reigned supreme at the sale as another top price of the sale was made by Jean-Michel Basquiat's Pyro, which was also hammered down at £8m and sold for £9,879,500. “It’s a big moment,” said Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Europe, “when Banksy shares top price with Basquiat.”

Banksy's previous auction record was achieved by his Keep it Spotless, the artist's collaboration with Damien Hirst, which sold for US$1.87m in 2008.

Banksy responded to his new auction record on Instagram, commented: “Record price for a Banksy painting set at auction tonight. Shame I didn’t still own it."


A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

Last October, Banksy's grabbed worldwide attention with his self-destructing artwork Love Is in the Bin that sold for £1.04m at Sotheby's London. Though Devolved Parliament didn’t shred itself at auction this time, it had raised questions before sale as discrepancies were noticed between the 2009 version that displayed in Bristol Museum and the present one at Sotheby’s.

The auction house said Banksy had made some tweaks to the original painting, which was called Question Time, and retitled as Devolved Parliament before returning to Bristol Museum for another show earlier this year.

Banksy (b. 1974). Devolved Parliament

Lot no.: 28
Size: 276 x 446cm

  • The Artist
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011

Estimate: £1,500,000-2,000,000
Hammer price: £8,500,000
Price realised: £9,879,500

Auction summary
Auction house: Sotheby’s London
Sale: Contemporary Art Evening Auction
Date: 3 October 2019 | 7pm
Lots offered: 39
Sold: 34
Unsold: 5
Sold by lot: 87%
Sale total: £54,723,750