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Banksy painting of British politicians as chimpanzees sells for record $12.2 million

Banksy painting shreds
Banksy painting self destructs after $1.4 million sale 01:51

Banksy has truly outdone himself. A painting by the world's most famous street artist — depicting members of the British Parliament as chimpanzees — sold at auction Thursday for a record £9.9 million, or about $12.2 million.

The 2009 satirical oil on canvas painting is a staggering 13 feet wide, the largest known work by Banksy. It's titled "Devolved Parliament" and depicts the House of Commons "overrun with parliamentary primates" — a particularly timely piece given the tumultuous state of British politics over the controversial Brexit debate.

The painting was expected to sell for a few million dollars, but fetched nearly five times the estimation at Sotheby's in London. The bidding battle lasted 13 minutes, with the winning bid ultimately coming in over the phone.

Banksy's "Devolved Parliament" sold for a record $12.2 million at Sotheby's London. Sotheby's

"Shame I didn't still own it," Banksy wrote on Instagram following the announcement. The sale marks a record high for the anonymous artist's work.

According to Sotheby's, the paining was originally titled, "Question Time" and launched in time for the original "Brexit day" in March, but has since been renamed and reworked. It now includes snuffed-out lamps and a downturned banana held by one of the chimps.

A close up of "Devolved Parliament." Sotheby's

"Brexit day" has been repeatedly deferred — most recently to October 31 — making the artwork even more pertinent. 

"I made this ten years ago. Bristol museum have just put it back on display to mark Brexit day," Banksy posted on Instagram in March. "'Laugh now, but one day no-one will be in charge.'"

The previous auction record for the artist was $1.87 million, for the painting "Keep it Spotless" at Sotheby's New York in 2008.

The sale was not as dramatic as the sale of Banksy's "Girl with Balloon" exactly one year ago. That painting auto-destructed just as the sale was made, retitled to "Love is in the Bin." The crowd was shocked, but the work still sold for $1.4 million

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