September 27, 2019 / 1:45 PM / 17 days ago

Monkey business? Banksy's primates in parliament up for auction

LONDON (Reuters) - A Banksy painting of primates sitting in Britain’s parliament goes under the hammer next week and is expected to fetch up to $2.5 million (2 million pounds).

“Devolved Parliament”, in which chimpanzees replace politicians, measures 13 feet (4 m) long, making it the largest known canvas by the secretive British street artist, according to Sotheby’s.

With an eye on the 2009 work’s extreme topicality - the House of Commons is witnessing increasingly brutish exchanges over Britain’s EU departure - the auction house has set its estimated price tag at 1.5 million - 2 million pounds

“There’s no doubt that today this image has incredible currency not just here in the UK but across Europe and beyond,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, Europe.

“Here we see this, one of our oldest democracies and within it we see the regression towards tribal animalistic behaviour.”

Parliament has been at boiling point since it reconvened on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his opponents clashing in hours of furious argument over Brexit.

The artwork will be on display at Sotheby’s London until it goes under the hammer on Oct. 3, a year after another Banksy canvas, “Girl with Balloon”, shredded itself in front of shocked onlookers at a Sotheby’s auction just as it was sold.

“There’s been lots of comment, inevitably,” Branczik said. “...I can say categorically there is no shredder in this frame. It would have to be an incredibly large one and I can say with confidence that that is not the case.”

Reporting by Marissa Davison; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by John Stonestreet

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