March 30, 2021
An original and rare piece of art by secretive British street artist Banksy has sold at auction in Auckland for $1.7
million, making it the most expensive work by a contemporary artist ever sold in the country.
Keep It Real had been predicted to sell for between $600,000 and $1 million at the sale of Important and Rare art at the
International Art Centre in Parnell tonight.
However, vigorous bidding from 38 bidders, including telephone bids from outside New Zealand and internet bids, pushed
it up in after bidding began at $500,000. It reached $1,455,000 after 38 bids and was bought by a bidder who did not
want to be publicly identified. With the buyer’s premium the price was pushed up to $1,709,000.
“We’ve had the world on the telephone,” International Art Centre director Richard Thomson told the auction house as the
Banksy came up for sale.
Mr Thomson, who was also the auctioneer for tonight’s sale, said interest in the original Banksy work had been “quite
“It’s the first time an original Banksy has been sold in New Zealand and while we knew there was a lot of interest from
Banksy fans around the world, we didn’t anticipate such global excitement.
“This is an historic and a very exciting day for the New Zealand art market.
“I said recently Banksy was the Michelangelo of the modern art world and his popularity and record prices reflect that.”
Michelangelo, an Italian, was considered to be one of the biggest influences on the development of western art.
Keep It Real, shows a chimpanzee wearing a sandwich board inscribed with ‘Keep it Real.’ It has been signed by Banksy and is
accompanied by a certificate of authenticity by Pest Control, the company set up by Banksy to authenticate and sell his
Tonight’s auction follows a world record for a Banksy work. Game Changer, a black and white work was donated by Banksy donated to a Southampton hospital to raise funds to support the United
Kingdom campaign against Covid 19. It sold for $33 million, nearly six times the reserve Banksy put on it. Game Changer
showed a small boy playing with a nurse super doll as other hero dolls such as Batman and Spiderman lay discarded in a
nearby wastepaper basket.
Five other Banksy works also sold tonight. Four well surpassed their predicted prices, one sold for the upper price
range and one sold for slightly more than the lower price bracket.
“Banksy’s appeal around the world is quite astonishing. Part of that is his subtle approach to his art which generates
such powerful images and perceptions. He is a strong conservationist and his work is simple, very evocative and very
compelling,” Mr Thomson said.