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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Banksy defies the credit crisis as his canvases fetch over £350,000 at auction

Banksy's Tesco Value Tomato Soup. The graffiti artist has defied the credit crisis with a sale of his canvases fetching more than £350,000 at auction.
The Tomato Soup picture fetched £140,000 Photo: PA

One oil canvas, entitled Tesco Value Tomato Soup, fetched £140,000, more than the estimated £80,000, according to Bonhams, the auction house.

A spokeswoman said: "A bidding war broke out for it. It was jam-packed in the auction room but it was soon whittled down to two contenders" she said "All the big lots were sold."

The picture was among 24 of Banksy's best-known original works which came under the hammer last night.

Banksy came to prominence in his home city of Bristol for spray-can murals that commented on issues like law and order, consumerism and war - all in a in a playful fashion.

His famous picture of a chimp wearing a sign saying 'Laugh now but one day we'll be in charge' went under the hammer for £108,000.

A picture of Kate Moss in a Marilyn Monroe-style pose fetched £66,000. And his work 'Turf War', featuring Winston Churchill with a green mohawk haircut, sold for £60,000.

However, a life-sized stencil of a riot police officer with a smiley face entitled 'Have a Nice Day' - failed to sell.

Despite Banksy's popularity, he has zealously guarded his anonymity which has fuelled speculation about his real identity.

High profile collectors include Dennis Hopper, the actor, and Angelina Jolie, the actress, who spent £1 million on a piece last year.

The success of the sale will be reassuring for the art markets which has been severely hit by the financial crisis, with Sotheby's and Christie's, auctioneers, both reporting disappointing sales.

Sotheby's failed to reach its estimate of £55.3 million for its contemporary art sales over the summer, making a total of £43.9 million.

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