An infamous Banksy artwork which shredded itself at a previous auction has sold for a whopping £16 million (£18.5 million including a buyer’s premium) at Sotheby’s in London. It sets a new auction record for the street artist, who rose to fame in the 1990’s through his satirical graffiti art.
Nine bidders battled for around 10 minutes to win the newly renamed ‘Love is in the Bin’. In 2018, it unexpectedly became a piece of performance artwork when it was shredded in the same auction room. Occurring immediately after it had sold to a private European investor for £1 million, the live destruction made headlines across the world.
Sotheby’s contemporary art chairman, Alex Branczik, said at the time “Banksy is no stranger to making headlines and this latest chapter in his story has captured imaginations across the world – we can only begin to guess what might come next.”
He later concluded that the stunt “did not so much destroy an artwork by shredding it, but instead created one.“
‘Love is in the Bin’ sold for vastly over its £4 million to £6 million guide price. The work depicts ‘Girl with Balloon’ – a small, monochrome child reaching up towards a red heart-shaped balloon. Now one of Banksy’s best-known images, it was originally stencilled on a wall in East London.
Spectators waited with bated breath this time around as the bidding war came to a close. As the final bid was made by Nick Buckley Wood, representing a private investor, auctioneer Oliver Barker jested “I can’t tell you how terrified I am to bring down this hammer.”
The work has been on permanent loan to the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart museum in Germany since March 2019. It is unclear whether the loan will continue with the new owner.