A gallery worker poses with an artwork entitled 'Show Me the Monet' by British street artist Banksy during a photo call for Major Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's Galleries in central London on October 16, 2020. (AFP/Tolga Akmen)
An oil painting by British street artist Banksy parodying a Claude Monet masterpiece sold in London on Wednesday for £7.6 million, the second highest price at auction for the mysterious artist.
The oil on canvas work, Show Me the Monet, a modern take on Monet's impressionist classic The Water-Lily Pond, sold for £7,551,600 ($9.8 million, 8.4 million euros) at Sotheby's following a bidding battle.
"The hammer came down after five determined collectors battled for nearly nine minutes to drive the final price beyond its estimate of £3,000,000-5,000,000 to become the second highest price for the artist at auction," Sotheby's said.
The sale comes a year after a Banksy painting depicting the British parliament populated by chimpanzees smashed the record for the street artist by fetching nearly £9.9 million.
On that occasion the 2009 work entitled Devolved Parliament attracted a 13-minute battle between 10 different bidders.
Show Me the Monet was created in 2005, as part of a collection called The Crude Oils and had first been shown publicly in only Banksy's second gallery exhibition.
The painting transforms Monet's masterpiece depicting a Japanese-style bridge in his famous garden at Giverny into a modern-day fly-tipping spot.
Instead of an idyllic lily pond, the composition shows discarded shopping trollies and a fluorescent orange traffic cone floating in the water beneath the bridge.
"Ever prescient as a voice of protest and social dissent, here Banksy shines a light on society's disregard for the environment in favor of the wasteful excesses of consumerism," said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's European Head of Contemporary Art.
"Recent years have seen seminal Banksys come to auction, but this is one of his strongest, and most iconic, to appear yet," he added.
Banksy has become a household name since the turn of the century, after his iconic graffiti paintings began to appear overnight on buildings and at sites around the world.
The artist's identity remains shrouded in mystery even as his works have begun to attract increasingly high sums at auction.
Meanwhile he continues to use his art in stunts that generate huge publicity.
In 2018 his Girl With The Balloon partially shredded itself as the hammer came down at Sotheby's, becoming the retitled Love Is In The Bin.
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