On Rembrandt, on Richter, on Bacon, on Banksy! The Bristol-born graffiti artist has done it again on the auction floor, bringing in £2.2 million for his triptych “Mediterranean Sea View 2017“. Originally set at a laughably low – or if we’re being kind, cautious – estimate of £800,000, the work was sold alongside a range of artists from different eras and art historical cannons in what seems to be Sotheby’s new approach to “live” online auctioneering: diversifying your offerings. “Rembrandt to Richter” put old masters at the same table as modern and contemporary artists in an attempt to open up purchasing variability for established collectors – going for the whole kitchen sink as opposed to a small curated menu. As a result, those that make it onto the auction floor are often high rollers in their field, and The New York Times has this sale earning Banksy a “blue-chip name”.
Appealing to the kitschy aesthetic of the calm, classic British beach, the work serves as cheeky commentary alongside, say, Rembrandt’s oh-so-small 1632 panel painting (which sold for £14.5 million). The profits from the washed up, ghostly, refugee-worn life jackets will go to funding facilities in the nonprofit hospital Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation.