In October 2018, the Girl With Balloon artwork by Banksy was partially shredded moments after it was sold for GBP 1 million (USD 1.4 million) at Sotheby’s in London. Three years later, the now legendary artwork by Banksy, renamed Love is in the Bin, went under the hammer for GBP 18.6 million (USD 25.4 million/SGD 34.5million) on 14 October.
However, the sensationally self-destructed artwork was estimated at GBP 4 million-GBP 6 million (USD 5.5 million to USD 8.2 million) — almost 20 times higher than the presale price.
The selling price of the painting set a record for Banksy, surpassing the artist’s previous auction record of GBP 16,758,000 (USD 23,176,314) for Game Changer (pictured below) at Christie’s in London in March 2021. It was a tribute to the efforts of the British hospital staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
London-based dealer Acoris Andipa, specialising in Banksy’s paintings and prints, told the NYT, “I expected it would make £20 million. It’s such an infamous work. Together with Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi,’ it’s been the world’s most talked-about artwork of the last two or three years.”
The artwork placed in a Victorian-style frame shows a small child reaching out for a red, heart-shaped balloon. Before Girl With Balloon was displayed at the auction, it was originally graffitied on a wall in east London. Counted among Banksy’s best works, it has since been replicated in many forms.
Three years ago, the esteemed auction house landed in controversy after the shredding incident for not noticing the hidden shredder in the painting’s frame. Sotheby’s spokesperson had told CNN then that they “had no prior knowledge of this event and were not in any way involved.” However, the client who had brought the painting kept it.
After the sale, the partially shredded artwork went on a tour starting at Germany’s Frieder Burda Museum, making its first public appearance. Currently, it will be displayed in Hong Kong, Taipei and New York.
Banksy’s subversive and satirical yet brilliant artworks include the Kissing Coppers, Slave Labour and the recent Dismaland, an art show in England’s Weston-super-Mare seafront. He describes it as a “family theme park unsuitable for small children.”
(Main and featured images: Tolga Akmen/AFP)