SWAT van has images of special agents and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz
Banksy displayed the work at his first exhibition in the US in 2006
The unique secret artwork by enigmatic street artist Banksy is set to fetch up to £300,000 when it goes under the hammer at auction this week.
It is to be auctioned by Bonhams in London at their Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary art sale.
Bonhams said that the van has remained shrouded in mystery since September 2006, and has since been verified by the Pest Control Office, Banksy’s authorisation service. It was shown for the first and only time in an industrial warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, when the anonymous figure from Bristol, England, made his American debut with a solo exhibition.
Banksy, who has tussled with the police throughout his career, once said ‘My main problem with cops is that they do what they’re told,’ he said. ‘They say ‘Sorry mate, I’m just doing my job’ all the f***king time.’ Banksy’s characteristic stencilling technique, artfully employed on the SWAT van, was inspired by an incident while the artist was hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, he noticed the stencilled serial number. Stencilling has since allowed him to carry out complicated graffiti pieces extremely quickly, before he melts away into the night.
The controversial artist’s SWAT van sent shockwaves throughout LA and the world in 2006. ‘In the land of beautiful people, an artist without a face’ was the New York Times headline following the exhibition. In the ensuing months and years he rocketed to international fame. His work regularly fetching six figures at auction but he continues to work as a practising street artist.
All of Banksy is on show here: his bravado, his imagination, his technical prowess, his confidence and his willingness to put his head above the parapet and use truth as a weapon.
Banksy’s artworks have sold for ludicrous amounts of money in the past.