Banksy’s Shredding Artwork Up for Auction for $25.4 Million at Sotheby’s

LONDON – Banksy’s painting, which sensationally self-destructed three years ago after it sold for $1.4 million at auction, was resold by Sotheby’s Thursday for £18.6 million or $25.4 million, a record for the artist.

The work, titled “Love Is in the Bin” by Banksy, is estimated to fetch between $5.5 and $8.2 million.

After competition from a total of nine bidders, it was bought by a customer on a phone for a price that more than doubled Banksy’s previous auction record of $12.1 million given for his painting “Devolved Parliament”, again at Sotheby’s, in 2019.

The auction was the centerpiece of Sotheby’s “Frieze Week” contemporary art auction.

“I expected it to bring in £20 million,” says Acoris Andipa, a London-based dealer who specializes in Banksy’s paintings and prints. “It’s such a notorious job. Together with Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’, it is the world’s most talked-about work of art of the past two or three years.”

The artwork, which began as a 2006 spray-painted canvas called “Girl With Balloon”, was the last lot of Sotheby’s equivalent “Frieze Week” sale in October 2018. Immediately after being purchased in a telephone bid, for $1.4 million, an alarm went off in the sales area. Sotheby’s employees and the public at the auction gasped as the painting slipped through its elaborate gold frame and ripped to shreds, stalling halfway through. It was performed via a remote-controlled mechanism hidden in the frame. Sotheby’s stated afterwards that it was “Banksy-ed”.

Conceived by Banksy to undermine the excesses of the art trade, according to his Instagram posts, the stunt created what experts correctly predicted would become a very valuable piece of art.

‘Love Is in the Bin’, with its shredded lower half dangling under the frame, was displayed behind a protective glass screen at Sotheby’s. It was put up for sale by an unknown European collector. It was exhibited alongside revered old masters for 11 months at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in Germany in 2019-20. In that period, the Staatsgalerie attracted 180,000 visitors, approximately double the usual visitor numbers.

Leading up to the sale, the artwork, which auctioneer Oliver Barker, president of Sotheby’s Europe, called “this great iconic Banksy,” was on display in old master style in a separately lit gallery, similar to the darkened room in which Christie’s in 2017 the $ 450.3 million “Salvator Mundi” in New York.

“I can’t tell you how terrified I am of taking this hammer down,” Barker said after accepting the latest $25.4 million bid. He had been the auctioneer on the night of Banksy’s daring, semi-successful stunt three years earlier.

But this time it was just an auction record being shredded.

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