A triptych of what appear to be stormy 19th-century seascapes but are actually politically charged works by Banksy is to appear at auction to raise money for a hospital in Bethlehem.
The artist himself donated the three paintings, which will be sold by Sotheby’s in London with an estimate of £800,000 to £1.2m.
The triptych, Mediterranean Sea View 2017, is a response to the migration crisis of the last decade. The three traditionally framed paintings appear to be romantic-era seascapes, but the lifebuoys and orange life jackets washed up on the shore tell a different story.
Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art for Europe, said Banksy took three found oil paintings and created a work that shed light on one of the burning issues of the 21st century.
“This triptych hangs in the Sotheby’s galleries alongside works by some of history’s greatest landscape painters, including Bellotto, Van Goyen and Turner. Banksy’s work, however, stands alone for its powerful political message.
The paintings were created for Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, which offers “the worst view of any hotel in the world” – a reference to the fence he looks over, separating Israel from the Palestinian territories.
It opened in 2017 and is a political statement as well as a functional hotel. Guests have been able to book rooms ranging from budget bunk-bed dorms to a Presidential Suite where water splashes from a machine-gunned water tank in the hot tub.
The hotel also houses the largest collection of works by Banksy. The triptych was created to be displayed above a fireplace filled with rubble in the lobby of the colonial-style hotel.
Proceeds from the sale of the triptych will go towards a new acute stroke unit and the purchase of children’s rehabilitation equipment for BASR Hospital in Bethlehem.
It will be sold at a Sotheby’s evening auction on Tuesday July 28 titled Rembrandt to Richter. The sale includes a rare Picasso drawing of his lover and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter and one of Rembrandt’s last self-portraits left in private hands.