Two superstars of British pop culture take centre stage at a Sotheby’s auction this March when bad boy of pop (but king of Christmas albums) Robbie Williams parts with Kissing Coppers, Vandalised Oils (Choppers), and Girl with Balloon. The three works by Banksy, portray the anonymous street artist’s most recognisable motifs.
Williams purchased the works directly from the artist soon after their creation in the early 2000s, reported the Financial Times. While the “I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen” singer’s appreciation for Banksy is well-known, he had never spoken publicly about the artist’s work till now.
“I love Banksy’s art. It’s iconic and impactful, and it makes me laugh,” says Williams.
As with many of Banksy’s most seminal works, all three motifs were first unveiled on the streets around London. The original Kissing Coppers first emerged on the exterior of a pub in Brighton in 2004 and is interpreted as Banksy’s advocation for the public acceptance of homosexuality. Girl with Balloon made its debut under Waterloo Bridge in 2002. Almost 20 years later, the motif became a cultural phenomenon when it began “self-destructing” in a Sotheby’s London saleroom, and went on to fetch a record breaking £18.6 million ($33.66 million). Vandalised Oils (Choppers) depict military helicopters disrupting a serene pastoral landscape and is Banksy’s critique of the danger of mechanised warfare.
“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,” says Williams. “As a collector of Banksy’s work, you become part of a broader cultural movement.”
“These three works unite the cultural legacies of two of Britain’s biggest stars: Robbie Williams and Banksy. Like their creator, and like their owner, they are acerbic, iconic, irreverent, and unique,” says Hugo Cobb, Head of The Now Evening Auction, Sotheby’s London.
The three pieces from the Williams collection are expected to fetch between £7 million and $10 million at auction.
Williams told the Financial Times that he owns several more Banksys, and was parting with the three works to invest in an art project he is working on, and to reinvest in new art by other artists.
The three works go under the hammer on March 2, 2022 during Sotheby’s The Now London evening sale. They are now on exhibit in Sotheby’s New York galleries for a special six-day preview, before embarking on a global tour to Hong Kong (February 8-9) and London for its final public view from February 22 through to March 2.