Speaking of Banksy’s most notable artwork, perhaps the first thing that we immediately think of is the artist’s self-destructing artwork Love Is in the Bin that sold for £1.04m at Sotheby’s last year. This year seems to be another extraordinary year for the artist. While Christie’s and Sotheby’s are holding duelling auctions offering Banksy’s prints online, Bonhams presents something in a larger scale — a massive turbo zone truck — from Banksy's formative years.
Entitled Turbo Zone Truck (Laugh Now But One Day We'll Be in Charge), the statement piece was an unprecedented work of art created in 2000. The 17-ton truck, covered in graffiti by Banksy, is the largest-ever work created by the artist.
While a used Volvo FL6 box lorry might fetch about thousands of pounds in the market, this same model of vehicle with a surface area of 80 square metres painted by Banksy is valued at £1m-1.5m (US$1.3m-2m). It is accompanied by a Certificate of Authentication issued by Pest Control, Banksy's studio.
Invited to southern Spain in 1999, Banksy, who was then an obscure graffiti artist, was propositioned to paint the Volvo lorry in anticipation of a warehouse party that had been planned for the New Year and millennium celebrations in 2000. After spraying the initial layers of paint on stage and under spotlights during the party, Banksy completed the truck over the next two weeks, detailing and rendering the artwork in a prototypical, free-hand style. In the subsequent years, the truck toured Europe and South America with Turbozone Circus, a company known for their pyrotechnics.
The truck illustrates a variety of Banksy's most prominent and sought-after characters. The background depicts flying monkeys and red stars with the word 'circus' stencilled across the back end of the truck and the reverse side of the truck shows a group of soldiers running away from a cannon. The title of the piece is stencilled above the soldier's heads with 'charge' in large letters.
A group of soldiers running away from a cannon
A man about to smash a TV screen with a hammer
It is a fascinating record of how the artist's calls for anarchy and social change were already central to his work. The truck is also illustrated in Banksy’s Wall and Piece (London, 2005).
Banksy’s Wall and Piece (London, 2005)
In 2016, Banksy’s Swat Van which was created for his breakout Barely Legal show was sold at Bonhams for £218,500.
The artist’s auction record is now held by the self-shredding Girl with Balloon which was hammered down at £860,000 and sold for £1.04m after premium. Once the present truck is hammered down for a price within its estimate, it will set a new auction record for the artist. It will be offered at Bonhams’ Goodwood Revival sale on 14 September.
Banksy｜Turbo Zone Truck (Laugh Now But One Day We'll Be In Charge)｜2000
Lot no.: 212
Created in: 2000
Model: a Volvo FL6 box lorry
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist in 2000
Estimate: £1,000,000 - 1,500,000 (US$1.3m-2m)
Auction house: Bonhams London
Sale: Goodwood Revival
Date: 14 September 2019