A work by British street artist Banksy, who destroyed himself after being auctioned off three years ago, fetched nearly £18.6 million (€22 million) on Thursday – a new record for the artist.
The value now reached in the auction is about 20 times higher than the price of the previous work Self-destruct in 2018.
‘Love is in the bin’ has been auctioned by Sotheby’s in London, with an estimated pre-order of between £4 and £6 million.
After a 10-minute bid was submitted to nine bidders — located on site, but also online and by phone — the work was purchased by an undisclosed buyer, at three times the highest estimate. Auctioneer Oliver Parker even joked that he was “afraid” of hitting the bid and ending it.
The piece consists of a partially cut canvas in a decorative frame with a spray painted image of a girl catching a red balloon in the shape of a heart.
When it was last sold at Sotheby’s in October 2018, the piece was known as the “Girl With Balloon.” As soon as an anonymous European buyer submitted the winning bid – for £1 million – Banksy’s hidden in-frame shredder got to work, tearing off half of the framed painting.
At the time, Sotheby’s received some criticism for failing to locate the hidden shredder. But the 2018 buyer decided to go ahead with the purchase, a decision that retaliated on Thursday as the price of the business increased.
“Girl With Balloon” was originally recorded on a wall in East London and has been played endlessly.
The work quickly became one of Banksy’s best-known works and was featured by Sotheby’s in cities such as New York and Hong Kong ahead of Thursday’s auction.
Alex Branczek, president of Sotheby’s for modern and contemporary art, described fragmentation as “one of the most innovative moments in performance art of this century”.
“It has been a whirlwind to follow the journey of this now legendary piece and bring it among us again, presenting it tonight in the same room where it was created by the artist,” Brancic said.
Banksy, who has never confirmed his full identity, began his career painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world’s most famous artists, with his work often satirical.
Many of his works were sold for millions of dollars at auction. In March, a Banksy mural honoring British health workers, first painted on a hospital wall, sold for £16.8 million at Christie’s auction, a record for Thursday.
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