A painting by the mysterious artist Banksy, showing the British Parliament as a gathering of chimpanzees, has been auctioned off for almost £10 million, just days after the body was ordered reconvened in hopes of stopping Brexit.
‘Devolved Parliament’ sold for £9,879,500 at Sotheby’s in London on Thursday, in less than 15 minutes of bidding. The sale broke the record for Banksy’s work, previously held by the sale of ‘Keep It Spotless’ for £1.4 million in 2008.
“Shame I didn’t still own it,” the artist wrote on Instagram following the sale.
Painted a decade ago, ‘Devolved Parliament’ was dusted off earlier this year, ahead of the March 29 deadline for Britain’s exit from the EU. That deadline has since been extended to October 31, which now looms over the drama between Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who wants a Brexit even without a deal with the EU – and Parliament, which does not.
Last week, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Johnson’s request to suspend – or “prorogue” – the legislative body until after the deadline was “unlawful, void and of no effect.”
A BBC legal analyst described the ruling as “legal, constitutional and political dynamite,” and a Scottish MP who brought the case called on Johnson to “do the decent thing and resign.” The decision was cheered by the Remain faction, which dominates Parliament and has been blocking Brexit even though the majority of Britons voted to leave in a 2016 referendum.
The reconvened Parliament proceeded to block Johnson’s call for a snap election, demanding that the PM commit to ruling out a no-deal Brexit first. Johnson has refused, and even purged from his party some of the rebellious Tory MPs who sided with Labour in seeking to block Brexit, though that has endangered his ruling majority.
The spectacle of the opposition refusing to vote the sitting PM out of power appears to have invited comparisons with Banksy’s painting and driven up its price to five times the most generous pre-auction estimates.
‘Devolved Parliament,’ by the way, is no older than the UK Supreme Court – both date back to 2009.