Love is in the

Ben Hanly
Modern & Contemporary Art Specialist 

Nothing says I Love You more on Valentine’s Day than a big red heart – so if you’re the romantic type with deep pockets and a love of Urban art, why don’t you pop down to Sotheby’s on 2nd March and buy a belated Valentine’s gift for your better half?

Robbie Williams, the former Take That singer and one of the UK’s most successful pop star of the past 30 years, has decided to sell three major works by Banksy from his personal collection at Sotheby’s London contemporary sale. No doubt hoping to capitalise on the strong prices original works by Banksy have achieved in the last couple of years, Williams is offering a strong selection of iconic works for sale.

‘These works unite the cultural legacies of two of Britain’s biggest stars: Robbie Williams and Banksy,’ said Hugo Cobb of Sotheby’s. ‘Like their creator and like their owner, they are acerbic, iconic, irreverent and unique.’

The earliest work of the group is a 2002 unique version of Banksy’s famous Girl with Balloon, painted on a metal sheeting. This work is earlier than the infamous 2006 version which was shredded live during a Sotheby’s auction in 2018, and which subsequently sold again last year at Sotheby’s under the new titled of Love is in the Bin, making £18,500,000 – a world record for the artist. The Williams version might not have the notoriety of the shredded work, but its strong rock ‘n roll provenance, and the fact that it is the only version painted on metal to come to auction, will no doubt ensure a strong result. The work is estimated at £2m-3m.

Also up for sale is a 2005 version of Kissing Coppers, which depicts two male British police officers in a passionate embrace.

This image first appeared on the outside wall of the Prince Albert pub in Brighton in 2004 and was a very public demonstration for Banksy’s support for acceptance of homosexuality. The original mural was removed in 2014 after being repeatedly vandalised, but you can buy the Williams version at Sotheby’s, which is estimated at £2.5m-3.5m.

The third and final work being offered is a strong example of Banksy’s Vandalised Oil series, in which Banksy has superimposed a stencil of two military helicopters flying over and disrupting a serene pastoral landscape. It is part of a series of works the artist made in which he superimposes graffiti and stencilled images on top of traditional paintings. Flying Chopper, carries a pre-sale estimate of £2.5m-3.5m, but it will no doubt attract strong interest from buyers.

The three works were available for viewing at Sotheby’s New York between January 22nd-27th, Hong Kong between February 8th-9th, and are now heading back to London for the final public viewing from February 22nd before being sold on 2nd March.

Of course, if your Valentine’s Day budget is a little too modest to allow you to buy the famous big red heart for your loved one, I’m sure a box of chocolates will do just fine!


Posted in Art and Sculpture, News.