Subject to Availability by Banksy

In a cheeky commentary on climate change, in 2009, British artist Banksy creatively vandalized this 1890 painting by Hudson River School painter Albert Bierstadt. The artwork, now called “Subject to Availability,” has a surprise for Northwest locals — Mount Rainier. It sold at auction Wednesday for 4,582,500 pounds, or $6,342,180. (©Christie’s Images Limited 2021 / Courtesy of Christie’s)

By Megan Burbank 
Seattle Times features reporter

As the Puget Sound region coped this week with extreme heat caused by climate change, one of the art world’s most audacious commentaries on the issue reemerged across the Atlantic.


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.”