A 2009 work of creative vandalism from British artist and agitator Banksy, “Subject to Availability,” was sold at Christie’s King Street in London Wednesday. The painting’s subject is a beloved feature of the Northwest: Mount Rainier.
A prolific street artist, Banksy has long maintained his anonymity despite rising fame and multimillion-dollar private sales. Christie’s estimated the value of “Subject to Availability” at between 3,000,000 and 5,000,000 British pounds, or about $4,152,900 to $6,921,500 in U.S. dollars. It sold Wednesday for 4,582,500 pounds, or $6,342,180.
To create “Subject to Availability,” Banksy “hijacked” an 1890 painting by artist Albert Bierstadt, said Christie’s spokesperson Sara Macdonald. Though Bierstadt, a German American painter, lived in New York, he frequently visited — and painted — the American West during his lifetime.
Bierstadt was a fitting conceptual reference for Banksy’s reckoning with climate change. As Macdonald explained, Bierstadt was a member of the Hudson River School, a group of painters who “railed against the industrial revolution’s destruction of nature.”
Banksy built upon that commentary by adding an asterisk and a tiny bit of corporate-speak to the painting’s bottom right-hand corner: “*Subject to availability for a limited period only.”