Banksy’s notorious “Girl with Balloon,” which shocked spectators in 2018 when it immediately self-shredded upon sale, is on the auction block once again — effectively half the painting it was just before the gavel hit three years ago.
Nevertheless, it’s expected to fetch $8.3 million as renamed “Love is in the Bin,” six times its previous price.
The framed artwork by the notoriously covert street artist, of a girl illustrated in black and white while holding a red balloon, sold at Sotheby’s as a fully intact image.
Yet as soon as the winning bid — $1.4 million — was called, the canvas was quietly prompted to process through what art experts later realized was a built-in shredder, installed into the bottom of the frame, stopping about halfway.
Art experts are still befuddled at the idea that Sotheby’s handlers wouldn’t have detected the shredding device.
“Some people think it didn’t really shred. It did,” Banksy posted on Instagram days after the sale. “Some people think the auction house were in on it. They weren’t,” he added.
A spokesperson for Sotheby’s has also maintained ignorance, telling CNN in a recent statement that the auction house “had no prior knowledge of this event and were not in any way involved.”
The identity of the winning bidder, and now seller, has yet to go public. Meanwhile, “Love is in the Bin” will embark on a world tour ahead of October’s auction.
Fans and critics continue to debate on how to characterize the stunt — social commentary or a viral press ignition — in regards to an artist known to push boundaries, both artistically and legally. Indeed, the self-destructing piece generated a reported 30,000 news stories at the time.
Banksy’s controversial career has paid off, as earlier this year he sold his highest valued piece yet for nearly $20 million.
More than an art world troll-artist, Banksy’s also no stranger to geo-politics: A year ago, he surreptitiously funded a rescue yacht for refugees in the Mediterranean, which he had painted hot pink.
“Like most people who make it in the art world, I bought a yacht to cruise the med,” the artist told fans on social media at the time.