A Banksy artwork that was given to a band by the artist sold for $2,032,000, well over its original $600k estimate, at an auction where the band performed.
The band and the artwork share the name “Brace Yourself!” but only after the group agreed to change its name from its original moniker, “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, because Banksy wanted to use it as the title of his controversial 2010 documentary. In exchange, the anonymous artist created the painting, which features a grim reaper driving a carnival-style bumper car, and gave it to the band. After being initially valued at $600,000, the painting was kept in temperature-controlled storage and later featured in Banksy exhibitions in 2014 and 2021.
“I was kind of quite frustrated that it was so valuable,” said guitarist Darren Moore. “It did just kind of languish for a while in storage, hidden away from the world, and so I was really happy when we finally started to exhibit.”
The band then decided the painting should be seen, not cloistered away in storage, and resolved to put it up for auction. “People should be able to see it … whether that’s [in] someone’s house or in a museum,” said guitarist Mark Atkinson. “So it wasn’t necessarily the cost driving [the sale] but it was a trigger because [after the exhibits] we were going to have to put it in storage and [continue to pay for] insurance.”
The painting was displayed in the window of the Hard Rock Cafe in Piccadilly Circus, London in March ahead of the auction.
Brace Yourself! (the band) performed live at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills before an auction where Brace Yourself! (the painting) drew a winning bid more than three times the original estimate. The artwork was purchased by Miguel Garcia Larios, owner of Rcnstrct Studio in Hollywood, who said his intention was to preserve the work as a “piece of history.”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit MusiCares, which provides health, financial, and rehabilitation support to people working in the music industry. The auction also included an original print of Banksy’s Girl With Balloon, which sold for $195,000, and more than 70 artworks by celebrity artists including TV host/painter Bob Ross, actor Jim Carrey, and Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro.