A painting by British street artist Banksy depicting the UK Parliament populated by chimpanzees went on show Saturday before being auctioned. It's expected to fetch up to $2.5 million (€2.28 million).
A painting by Banksy depicting primates sitting in Britain's Parliament goes under the hammer next week. "Devolved Parliament," painted in 2009, is due to go on display until October 3, when it will go for sale at an auction in New York.
It shows chimpanzees on the green benches of the House of Commons, from the viewpoint of the main entrance. The painting measures 4.46 meters (14.6 feet) by 2.67 meters — the largest known canvas by the anonymous street artist.
Banksy got the painting out again for March 29 this year, when Britain was originally due to leave the European Union. "I made this 10 years ago. Bristol Museum has just put it back on display to mark Brexit day," the artist said at the time. "Laugh now, but one day no one will be in charge."
"What he's pointing to here is the regression of the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world into tribalistic animalistic behavior, the sort that we've seen broadcast on our televisions," Alex Branczik, Sotheby's European head of contemporary art, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
"The real genius of Banksy is his ability to reduce this incredibly complex debate into one single simple image, which importantly is very readily shared in this age of social media and a very image-consuming population."
'Never been a better time'
The work is expected to fetch £1.5-2 million ($1.85-2.45 million, €1.7-2.25 million). The current auction record for a Banksy artwork is $1.87 million, achieved by "Keep it Spotless" at Sotheby's New York in 2008.
The sale comes after the controversial five-week suspension of Britain's Parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court, with time running out before the UK is due to leave the European Union on October 31. "There's never been a better time to bring this painting to auction," said Branczik.
People and politicians in the UK remain bitterly divided over how, or even whether, to leave the 28-nation European bloc. Johnson insists he wants to strike a deal, but is demanding significant changes to the withdrawal agreement negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May. That deal was rejected three times by Britain's Parliament.
The EU side says it is still waiting for concrete proposals from London on maintaining an open border between the UK's Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland — the key sticking point in the negotiations. Brexit talks continued on Friday with a meeting between UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and EU negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels.
sri/jlw (AFP, Reuters, AP)