July, 07, 2023
In 2018, a mysterious spectacle occurred at an auction when Banksy's "Girl With Balloon", just after it was purchased, began tearing itself apart, eliciting gasps from the stunned audience. The winning bidder, a European woman, who had just paid a hefty $1.4 million, was initially taken aback but soon recognized that she had inadvertently become the owner of a unique piece of art history. The semi-destroyed artwork earned a new moniker: "Love is in the Bin".
This remarkable piece of art history changed hands at a London auction, fetching an astounding $25.4 million, nearly 18 times its original price. The winning bid far exceeded Sotheby’s pre-auction estimation of $8.2 million, a testament to Banksy’s escalating market value.
Banksy, a British artist whose identity remains undisclosed, has a reputation for pushing boundaries and defying art conventions. Known initially for his illicit graffiti work, Banksy gained attention in 2005 for clandestinely hanging his pieces in prestigious institutions like Paris's Louvre, where he stealthily displayed a grinning rendition of the Mona Lisa.
By the time "Girl With Balloon" appeared on Sotheby’s auction block in 2018, Banksy had evolved beyond just a prankster. His portfolio included an acclaimed documentary, "Exit Through the Gift Shop," and impactful art addressing contemporary issues such as the refugee crisis and Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in New Orleans.
"Girl With Balloon," first seen on an east London wall, ranks among Banksy's most recognized pieces. After the astonishing shredding event at Sotheby's, Banksy disclosed in a video that he had rigged the frame with a shredder intending to destroy the entire artwork. Sotheby's representatives maintained their unawareness of this prank, stating they were informed only that the frame was "intrinsic to the artwork".
The jaw-dropping sale of "Love is in the Bin" to an unidentified Asian collector sets a new auction record for Banksy, outperforming a piece that saluted UK healthcare workers, which fetched $23.1 million earlier this year. Even though Banksy doesn't profit from secondary market sales, it is estimated that he brings in around $20 million annually from selling original pieces.