On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, Julien’s Auctions will host its annual Street Art auction in Beverly Hills featuring the sale of a rare large-scale mural by the notorious street artist Banksy titled “Donkey Documents” (Estimate: $400,000-$600,000) created in Bethlehem in 2007.
The controversial mural depicts a donkey having its identification papers checked by an armed Israeli soldier, mocking the stringent security measures enforced by the Israeli Government. The piece is part of a series of works created by Banksy along the concrete barrier dividing the Palestinian West Bank from Israel and was made to promote his holiday fundraiser exhibition, “Santa’s Ghetto.” The work was posted by Banksy on his own website shortly after creation. The detached mural, measuring 7 feet high by 10 1/2 feet long, is the largest and most significant intact Banksy mural in existence from his visit to Israel and will be on display in London leading up to the sale. Banksy’s location choice, timing, and subject matter draws parallels with the donkey depicted in the well-known Biblical Christmas story that transported Mary into Bethlehem where she gave birth of Jesus. The effective juxtaposition of modern surveillance with traditional religious imagery strikes an ironic chord, a sentiment Banksy often employs in his works.
Julien’s Auctions is also offering one of Banksy’s most poignant examples of American street art. “I Remember When All This Was Trees” (Estimate: $200,000-$400,000) is a four-color aerosol stencil and freehand figural work with text depicting a young boy holding a can of red paint and a brush. The boy, having just written the statement lamenting the loss of nature and deforestation, confronts the viewer directly with a deadpan expression. The mural was fittingly executed on the wall of a derelict building at what was once the Packard automobile factory in Detroit, Michigan — now a wasteland of crumbling concrete, glass and steel, and a symbol of ongoing hardship in the economically and socially mired city. Banksy created this work in 2010 just prior to the premiere of the documentary that would bring him to stardom, “Exit through the Gift Shop” (Paranoid Pictures, 2010). Fingerprints can clearly be seen on the red paint and are the only known examples of what may finally lead to the uncovering of the elusive artist’s identity. The mural, measuring over 7 feet high by 7 feet wide, stands as a statement on the negative effects of industrialization.
Another Banksy stencil on offer will be “Bomb Hugger” (Estimate: $25,000-$35,000), a black and red aerosol image depicting a young girl hugging an aerial bomb. The work was sprayed onto a cardboard panel and used as a placard during the International anti-war protests of 2003. A photograph of the owner shown holding the Banksy placard can be seen in an article about the protests published at the time in the Basingstoke Gazette.
The preeminent sale will also feature “Johnny Rotten” by Shepard Fairey (Estimate: $10,000-$20,000), as well as additional works by such artists as Retna, Space Invader, Craola, Ben Eine, Rene Gagnon, Nick Walker, Blek le Rat, Zevs, Seen, D*Face, Ron English, Morely, Wrdsmth, Jules Muck, Shark Toff, and works from the Conart collection.