Biggest Banksy auctioned off in Zwolle, artist not pleased

The biggest piece of street art by Banksy that has ever come up for sale will be sold at a Dutch auction house in Zwolle on Wednesday and is expected to fetch between €600,000 and €1m.

The White House Rat, of which only the head remains, was sprayed onto the facade of The White House pub  in Liverpool in 2004 as sign of protest. The Biennale art fair was taking place in London at the time and Banksy had not been invited, auctioneer Richard Hessink said in an interview with NPO radio1.

The White House Rat is one of nine Banksy lots the Hessink auction house will be selling on Tuesday but was easily the most difficult to transport. The work measures three by 3.5 metres and weighs some 500 kilos.

Asked how a work by an artist as renowned as Banksy had ended up in Zwolle Hessink said he had a ‘network of people’ looking out for mainly older work.

‘The work dates from the days when Banksy was not as famous as he is now. Part of works that were on buildings that have been demolished have found their way onto the market and are being offered for sale. This one does not have the Banksy Pest Control certificate or it could fetch between €5m and €10m.’

Banksy himself is not in favour of auctioning off his street art but has no way of controlling it because the art belongs to the person who owns the building.

Reportedly an email message to Hessink read ‘Bastards, crawl back under your stone’. The White House Rat has been in a private collection since 2017.

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