Nothing is off limits for Banksy, not even making fun of a famous photograph by Annie Leibovitz depicting actress Demi Moore in a pregnant state. This parodic painting, entitled "Original Concept for Barely Legal Poster (after Demi Moore)", will be auctioned at Sotheby's this month.
This two-meter-tall painting was first unveiled in 2006, ahead of Banksy's first exhibition in the United States, titled "Barely Legal." The street artist announced the event by pasting up promotional posters all over Los Angeles; the image in the posters was inspired by Annie Leibovitz's famous photograph, showing Demi Moore completely naked and pregnant, which had been on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991.
As he is wont to do, the British artist hijacked this portrait by adding his own "Banksy-esque" touch: the face of the American actress was replaced by that of a monkey with bulging eyes wearing a black wig. The figure also has a cigarette between her lips, a bold choice considering that Demi Moore was seven months pregnant in the photograph by Annie Leibovitz. "This is Banksy at his most outrageous; a mischievous caricature of one of the most audacious celebrity images and iconic magazine covers of all time," declared Emma Baker, head of contemporary art evening sales at Sotheby's London, according to Penta.
A hot commodity at auction
"Original Concept for Barely Legal Poster (after Demi Moore)" will be offered at auction on March 25 at Sotheby's, during the "Modern Renaissance: A Cross-Category Sale" . It comes from the personal collection of an anonymous collector who acquired it in 2007 from Delahunty Fine Art and is estimated to fetch between £2 million and £3 million (US$2.78 million and US$4.17 million).
However, bidding could rise above this amount, given the appeal of Banksy's work to collectors. In October, the parody painting "Show Me the Monet" sold for £7.6 million at Sotheby's, more than £2.5 million above its high estimate. A year earlier, "Devolved Parliament" set a new sales record for Banksy, going under the hammer for £9.9 million. And this trend may well continue in 2021. "A lot of the more traditional collectors, people who buy Basquiat and Haring and even Giacometti or Bacon, are also now looking at Banksy as a really serious artist," Alex Branczik, European head of contemporary art at Sotheby's explained to the Guardian.