British pop star Robbie Williams is auctioning three Banksy paintings together worth an estimated £10m at Sotheby’s in London in March. It is the first time the former Take That singer has sold anything from his own personal art collection.
The three works—Kissing Coppers (2005; est. £2.5m-£3.5m), Vandalised Oils (Choppers) (2005; est. £2.5m-£3.5m) and Girl with Balloon (2006; est. £2m-£3m)—were all acquired directly from Banksy’s studio straight after they were created.
The musician’s appreciation of Banksy is well known, yet he has never spoken publicly about the artist’s work—until now. “I remember seeing Girl with Balloon, Vandalised Oils (Choppers) and Kissing Coppers for the first time. I believe they are some of his best paintings and I love how closely linked they are to the street pieces. As a collector of Banksy’s work, you become part of a broader cultural movement,” Williams says in a statement. “I love Banksy’s art. It’s iconic and impactful, and it makes me laugh.”
According to Hugo Cobb, the head of “The Now” evening sale at Sotheby’s London, Williams has lived with these works in his Los Angeles home for several years. “These are not the only Banksys he owns,” Cobb adds. Last September, The Sun reported that Williams was part of a syndicate hoping to buy Banksy’s Show Me The Monet, which sold at Sotheby’s for £7.6m.
Kissing Coppers—which could be interpreted as Banksy’s support for LGBTQ+ rights—first appeared on the wall of The Prince Albert pub in Brighton in 2004. After being repeatedly vandalised, the mural was removed in 2014.
It is the first time a Kissing Coppers painting has gone under the hammer. “It is the most faithful reproduction of that Brighton street piece,” Cobb says. “I’m not aware of any others. Certainly this one is unique. Whether there are others that are larger or in some sort of different format, we’d have to check with [Banksy’s studio] Pest Control.”
Vandalised Oils (Choppers), of two armed military helicopters flying over a serene pastoral landscape, is one of the earliest vandalised oil paintings by Banksy to ever come to auction, while Girl with Balloon is one of an edition of five, making it particularly unusual.
The trio of paintings begins a global tour on 22 January, starting in New York, followed by stops in Hong Kong and then London, where they go on sale on 2 March.
Following sales to collectors in Asia and the US, Sotheby’s is expecting interest from all territories. Banksy is, Cobb says, “probably our most global artist at the moment”.