World’s most expensive Volvo? Truck is rolling canvas for Banksy art

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Volvo FL6 box truck wears artwork by Banksy | Bonhams photos

Could a Volvo FL6 box lorry (aka a 17-ton work truck) possibly be worth $1.25 million, or even more? Bonhams thinks so, because this Volvo is a rolling canvas, covered since 2000 with the artwork of Banksy, at the time a seemingly unknown artist who in a few short years would become world famous for his graffiti-style art.

Dubbed the “Turbo Zone Truck (Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be in Charge),” the truck will be offered for sale at Bonhams Goodwood Revival auction scheduled for September 14 in England. The truck comes with a certificate of authentication from Pest Control, the name of Banksy’s studio, and has a pre-auction estimated value of £1 million to £1.5 million ($1.25 million to $1.8 million).

“Banksy was at an open-air party on a Spanish hillside to celebrate the millennium, when he was presented with the Volvo FL6 by Mojo, the co-founder of Turbozone International Circus, a touring company known for its extravagant pyrotechnics,” Bonhams states in its news release. 

“Banksy – then an obscure graffiti artist – started on this ‘blank canvas’ during the party and continued to work on it for the following two weeks. 

“The truck with Banksy’s artwork then spent the next years travelling throughout Europe and as far away as South America as part of the transport for Turbozone’s critically acclaimed Cinderella show. The piece is featured in Banksy’s book, Wall and Piece, published by Century in 2006.”

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Banksy’s first exhibition, “Crude Oils,” in 2005 featured the release of 164 black rats in the art gallery in London. In 2005, he painted nine images on the Palestinian side of the Israeli West Bank barrier — and returned two years later to host the exhibition “Santa’s Ghetto in Bethlehem.” He became world-known after his “Barely Legal” exhibition in Los Angeles in 2006. 

“Turbo Zone Truck (Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be in Charge)” from 2000, is a fascinating record of how the artist’s calls for anarchy and social change were already central to his work,” Bonhams said. “The images on the truck show the silhouette of a male figure swinging a hammer towards metal cogs. The background depicts flying monkeys and red stars with the word ‘circus’ stenciled across the back end of the truck and the reverse side of the truck shows a group of soldiers running away from a cannon. 

Closeup of the Banksy painting on the truck

“The title of the piece is stenciled above the soldier’s heads with ‘charge’ in large letters. The over-riding message is one of anarchy: ‘It’s us against them and we’re going to win’.” 

“The cumulative result is a resounding statement, both a direct call to arms against the establishment and the transformation of a mundane service vehicle into extraordinary work of art.” 

“Banksy is arguably the most important artist to have emerged since the millennium and this, his largest commercial work, represents a new high watermark of quality for works of his to appear at auction,” said Ralph Taylor, Bonhams global head of post-war and contemporary art. 

The truck is 33 feet long, 8 feet wide and 12 feet tall.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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