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Banksy’s Barely Legal SWAT Van to sell at Bonhams


A painted SWAT van used by Banksy in his seminal first U.S exhibition will be offered for sale at Bonhams later this month.
In 2006 the elusive street artist hosted ‘Barely Legal’, an exhibition he described as a "vandalised warehouse extravaganza".

It was hosted in an industrial zone close to Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles – but despite the unfashionable location, the show attracted snaking queues of art collectors and celebrities alike, including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Dennis Hopper.

The van was produced specifically for the exhibition, where it was acquired by a British collector and has remained unseen by the public ever since.

Verified by Pest Control, the group that provides official authentication for Banky’s works, the van is expected to sell for £200,000 – £300,000 ($290,000 – $430,000).

According to the auction house, "SWAT Van is one of the most ambitious and important works by Banksy to appear on the open market; nowhere else have his greatest strengths been combined to such success as in the present work."

"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 speak truth to power," said Ralph Taylor, Senior Director of Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Art department.

On one side the van features a team of armoured riot police, tricked into action by a small boy popping an inflated paper bag. On the other, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz stands confused amidst a swarm of graffiti tags, and on the rear of the van is the tag "How’s My Bombing? Call 1-800-648-0403".

Although the riot van was created specifically for the exhibition, Banksy has often used vehicles as large-scale canvases.

Back in June 2015, a large trailer painted over three days at the 1998 Glastonbury Festival was offered for sale in a Paris auction. Entitled ‘Silent Majority’, the trailer featured Banksy’s rare early freehand work, and fetched a price of $676,668.

The Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art sale takes place in London on June 29.


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