Banksy - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, June 24, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Animated and satirical, Banksy’s Gangsta Rat Peace, 2007, exemplifies the allusive artist’s dedication to social commentary and refined graffiti practice. Originally from Bristol, England, the street artist began utilizing stencils in 2000 as a means of quick reproduction to escape authorities while vandalizing the streets of London. Now, however, Banksy has embraced the once pragmatic technique as part of his trademark style.

    "[Rats] exist without permission. They are hated, hunted and persecuted. They live in quiet desperation amongst the filth. And yet they are capable of bringing entire civilisations to their knees."

    One of Banksy’s most iconic and prolific subjects, the rat, an anagram for “art,” has taken on several different iterations, often assuming the role of a protestor holding up signs with phrases such as “Get Out While You Can” and “Because I’m Worthless.” While rats are typically associated with the grime of urban life and rejected by the larger public with disgust, Banksy gives the rodent an intriguing narrative. In Gangsta Rat, the subject pays homage to the urban art scene in the 1980s and 90s sporting a side-ways New York Mets hat and a thick chain while hoisting a boombox.

    Loyal to his roots as a street artist, Banksy’s asserts his own critique of the art world through his art making.  Perhaps the most famously witnessed of his satirical stunts was his Crude Oils show in London in 2005. The show consisted of “re-mixed" masterpieces by Monet, Warhol and Van Gogh. Most outrageous was the accompaniment of about 200 live rats left to roam free throughout the exhibition—a physical manifestation of Banksy’s spray-painted rat infestation throughout the city of London.


    On the reverse of this double-sided work, Bansky includes a print of his work Morons, which illustrates a room bursting with properly attired civilians of high society bidding on a work at auction that cheekily exclaims, “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit.” Blatantly deeming the piece unworthy of such a high price, Banksy pokes fun at the idea that his work, once viewed as vandalization, is now considered “high art.”


    • Provenance

      Vanina Holasek Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in December 2007

    • Artist Biography


      British • 1975 - N/A

      Anonymous street artist Banksy first turned to graffiti as a miserable fourteen year old disillusioned with school. Inspired by the thriving graffiti community in his home city, Bristol, Banksy's works began appearing on trains and walls in 1993, and by 2001 his blocky, spray-painted works had cropped up all over the United Kingdom. Typically crafting his images with spray paint and cardboard stencils, Banksy is able to achieve a meticulous level of detail. His aesthetic is clean and instantly readable due to his knack for reducing complex political and social statements to simple visual elements.

      His graffiti, paintings and screenprints use whimsy and humour to satirically critique war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed — with not even the Royal family safe from his anti-establishment wit.

      View More Works


Gangsta Rat Peace

signed, dedicated and dated "FOR JO! + BANKSY 07" lower left; screen printed with the artist's signature "BANKSY" lower left of reverse image
spray paint and stencil and screenprint on paper, double-sided
29 7/8 x 22 1/8 in. (75.9 x 56.2 cm)
Executed in 2007, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control.

Full Cataloguing

$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $529,200

Contact Specialist

Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York

1 212 940 1250


20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 24 June 2021