Art Market

Banksy donated a triptych to a Sotheby’s auction to raise funds for a Bethlehem hospital.

Daria Simone Harper
Jul 27, 2020 4:00PM, via Sotheby’s

Detail of Banksy, Mediterranean sea view 2017, 2017. Est. £800,000–1.2 million ($1 million–1.5 million). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

The elusive artist Banksy has donated a triptych to Sotheby’s “Rembrandt to Richter” auction, set to take place tomorrow evening in London, with proceeds going toward raising money for a hospital in Bethlehem. The sale of the triptych, Mediterranean sea view 2017 (2017), which is expected to bring between £800,000 and £1.2 million ($1 million–1.5 million) will help fund the construction of a new acute stroke unit, and the purchasing of children’s rehabilitation equipment for the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation.

The painting was previously installed in the lobby of Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. The triptych, painted on found canvases in the style of 19th century seascapes, also features abandoned lifejackets and buoys, a reference to the European migrant crisis.

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art for Europe, said in a press release:

In Mediterranean sea view 2017, Banksy corrupts three found oil paintings with his own witty reworkings to create something that, while posing as a 19th-century seascape, spotlights one of the burning issues of the 21st century. In “Rembrandt to Richter,” this triptych hangs in Sotheby's galleries alongside works by some of history's greatest landscape painters, including Bellotto, Van Goyen and Turner. Banksy's work, however, stands alone for its potent political message.

If it sells for its high estimate, Mediterranean sea view 2017 will become the fourth-biggest auction result for a work by Banksy. Sotheby’s smashed his record last fall, when it sold his monumental canvas Devolved Parliament (2009) for £9.8 million ($12.1 million), or nearly five times its high estimate.

Since March, Banksy has created several artworks related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, he revealed an installation featuring mischievous rats that he purportedly created in his bathroom. In May, the artist unveiled a painting at Southampton General Hospital in the United Kingdom to honor essential workers. Earlier this month, he spray-painted a work on the inside of a London Underground train, but it was swiftly removed by Transport for London cleaning crews.

Update: July 28th, 2020

Banksy’s Mediterranean sea view 2017 sold for £2.2 million ($2.8 million), including fees, at Sotheby’s “Rembrandt to Richter” sale. It was the second-highest result ever for his work at auction.

Further Reading: Banksy Market Accelerates Following Shredding Stunt

Further Reading: The 6 Most Iconic Works by Banksy

Daria Simone Harper