Banksy's iconic Monkey Detonator creates $152,377 blast at Urban art sale

He counts members of Hollywood royalty like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie among his fans, so it's no surprise that Banksy emerged as the dominant force at Bonhams' much-anticipated Urban Art sale in London, yesterday (September 21).

The sale was highlighted by one of the Bristol, UK artist's most iconic works: Monkey Detonator, depicting exactly what the title suggests. The work appeared in Bonhams' high-end sale with a £70,000-90,000 estimate.

Executed in 2000, the work displays the typically dark sense of humour which has endeared Banksy to both art collectors and the general public - and which helped the work to achieve a final price of £97,250 ($152,377) inclusive of Buyer's Premium.

The work sold with a certificate of authenticity (COA) issued by Pest Control Office, the handling service which acts on behalf of Banksy and determines whether works were really produced by the anonymous artist.

Banksy's iconic Monkey Detonator sold for $152,377
Banksy's iconic Monkey Detonator sold for $152,377

Aside from the secrecy which surrounds the artist himself, the work itself also has some mystery. The canvas' reverse is inscribed 5/25, yet the number of works executed from the edition is not recorded.

However, the piece's COA lists the painting as part of a series. The other works are said to feature differences in the colour of the detonator - similarly to the 'series' works issued by Banksy's forebear Andy Warhol - and the works' sizes and media.

Meanwhile the #2 highlight in Bonhams' sale was, as expected, a work by Banksy's contemporary Shepard Fairey, who recently featured the first major US museum exhibition of the history of graffiti and street art at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles.

Fairey is perhaps still best known for his iconic Barack Obama 'Hope' artworks which caused a stir during the last US presidential election.

Chinese Solder was the work which featured at Bonhams - unique for being one of only seven hand painted works by the street artist, in a medium which usual prefers stencils and printing. It attracted a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-30,000.

Shepard Fairey's Chinese Solder - a rare handpainted work by the artist
Shepard Fairey's Chinese Soldier - a rare handpainted work by the artist

In the end, the Chinese Soldier fell midway between its lower and higher estimates to bring £25,000 inclusive of Buyer's Premium.

Overall, several works by Banksy were sold in a packed saleroom, realising £534,700 in total with 95% sold by value.

Competitive bidding was also in evidence on other original Banksy's featured in the sale, with impressive prices paid for Balloon Girl (estimated at £20,000-30,000) which sold for £55,250, Precision Bombing (£20,000) and HMV Dog (£13,750).

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