It was lot 34 and among hundreds of pieces at the Terminal One Heathrow auction on April 21 last year.
It may not have stood out at the time among the terminal desks, signage, baggage carousels and other equipment being sold off, but this passenger entrance arch became the talk of the Royal Academy Summer Show on June 6 when it was unveiled in adapted form as the latest entry by Banksy, the world-famous graffiti and street artist.
Now renamed Keep Ou, the artwork is Banksy’s latest cultural pop at Brexit, showing his signature rat using the T from the end of the word Out to break the padlock at the bottom of the closed roll door to let the EU back in.
The work follows on from his 2018 Summer Show piece Vote to Love, another commentary on Brexit.
Adam Alexander, CEO of CA Global Partners, who conducted the Heathrow auction and personally brought the hammer down on the lot, said: “We knew that quite a lot of the pieces for sale in the Heathrow auction had potential as memorabilia, and even as art and design collectables – for instance parts of the buildings have been remodeled as industrial chic desks – but this is something else.
“Ironically, much of the focus of the sale was on existing artworks, especially the series of unique murals created for Heathrow by the artist Ivan Knapp, which were very sought after.
“It’s fantastic that sometimes quite ordinary objects can have a whole new life as works of art. It’ll be fascinating to see if anything else from the sale resurfaces in this way.”
It’s not clear whether Banksy or a representative of his bought the gate at the auction or if it sold on to him afterwards. More than 4000 people registered to bid at the auction, which included no reserves.
The Royal Academy Summer Show opens on June 10 and runs until August 12.