Rat Collection by Banksy Comes Up for Auction

A collection of artworks featuring rats by street artist Banksy are coming up for auction in the United States next month.

Jun 21, 2024By Rosie Lesso, Managing Editor & Curator

banksy rat street art

 

On July the 11th, a series of artworks by famed street artist Banksy featuring rats will go up for auction at Julien’s Auctions Street Art Invasion sale in Los Angeles. Experts suggest the sum for the sale of the entire collection is likely to reach as high as £120,000. His works will form part of a larger sale showcasing art by some of the world’s best-known street artists, including DJ Shephard Fairey and street artist Invader.

 

Banksy’s Rat Series

Banksy’s Love Rat, 2004. Source: Christie’s

 

Rats are a recurring theme in Banksy’s trademark stenciled street art, and are often seen with anthropomorphic qualities, carrying out rebellious acts of vandalism or political protest. His attraction to the rat may be connected to the animal’s reputation as a cheeky trickster, and a naughty symbol of irreverence, making it an ideal mascot for Banky’s own artistic identity.

 

The artist’s Placard Rats was originally sprayed onto a newsagent’s board on on Gray’s Inn Road in London in 2004; Bansky originally made the work hoping passing visitors would add their own graffiti, but the one up for sale this time remains untouched and is expected to sell for £30,000 to £40,000. The street artist’s Umbrella Rat is also included in the sale, once sprayed onto a door in an S-Bahn station in Berlin’s Mitte area in 2004. Also included is his Gangsta Rat, first seen on a street bollard in Edinburgh in 2009. Both expected to sell for £20,000 to £40,000.

 

Banksy has also made countless other rat-themed graffiti artworks, including Love Rat, who holds a brush and appears to have painted a red heart behind him, and Radar Rat, who holds a satellite and stands in front of a swirling red vortex.

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Banksy’s Work

Love is in the Air (Palestine) by Banksy, 2003. Source: Sotheby’s

 

The notoriously unknown street artist first came to public attention during the 1990s, with his distinctive, recognizable sprayed on stencil designs featuring thought-provoking or provocative imagery. These include Balloon Girl, 2002, and Love is in the Air, 2003. He gained further, widespread popularity with his satirical amusement park Dismaland, opened in Weston-Super-Mare in 2015, and a recent tree mural made for the London Borough of Islington.

 

Other Works on Sale in July

Hand of Doom – Sound of Music, Shepard Fairey. Source: Artsy

 

Other artworks coming up for sale in the July auction alongside Banksy include a mosaic titled Money Bag by French street artist Invader, which he originally attached to the side of a Hong Kong building in 2015; it is estimated to sell for between £8,000 and £10,000. Work by activist and DJ Shepard Fairey will also come up for sale, including his Hand of Doom – Sound of Music, an artwork made with sprayed aerosol on an old record sleeve.

 

Banky’s Highest Auction Prices

Love is in the Bin, by Banksy, 2006-18. Source: Sky News

 

Banksy’s artworks have previously reached some staggeringly high auction prices in recent years, revealing just how well-known and renowned he has become. The most expensive of these was his Love is in the Bin, sold in 2021 for £18.6 million, along with Game Changer, which the artist sold for £18.6 million, the proceeds of which went to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), having already been donated by Banksy to Southampton General Hospital in 2020.

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By Rosie LessoManaging Editor & CuratorRosie has produced writing for a wide range of arts organizations including Tate Modern, The National Galleries of Scotland, Art Monthly and Scottish Art News. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art. Previously she has worked in both curatorial and educational roles, discovering how stories and history can enrich our experience of art.