Woman who bought shredded Banksy artwork to go through with purchase

Banksy renames work ‘Love Is in the Bin’ – ‘It’s a different work now, so it needed a new title’

An auction house was forced to admit it got “Banksy-ed” after a piece by the mysterious artist shredded itself as it went under the hammer.

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The woman who placed the winning telephone bid at a London auction for Banksy’s painting Girl With Balloon, which was partially shredded by remote control moments after it sold for £1.04 million (€1.19 million), is continuing with the purchase at the same price, Sotheby’s have said in a statement.

“When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history,” the buyer, who was identified only as a “European collector and a long-standing client”, commented in the statement.

Art of destruction: In principle, all artists should do the same until the market is cut down to size. Photograph: Sotheby’s/ New York Times
Banksy’s painting Girl With Balloon after self-destructs in the auction room. Photograph: Sotheby’s/ New York Times

Joanna Brooks, director of JBPR, who answers media enquiries for Banksy, said Sotheby’s had requested a new authentication of the piece, which passed halfway through a shredder concealed in the frame. “It’s a different work now, so it needed a new title.”

The shredded piece, titled Love Is in the Bin, has been granted another certificate by Pest Control, Banksy’s official authentication body. Neither Brooks nor Sotheby’s would confirm whether Banksy had been the seller of the painting.

After the winning bid was declared for Girl With Balloon at Sotheby’s on October 5th, the painting, hanging on the wall next to auction house staff members, began to shred itself, to the surprise of onlookers. The shredding stopped about halfway down the canvas. (A photo posted on the private Instagram account of Caroline Lang, chairwoman of Sotheby’s Switzerland, showed a man in the salesroom seemingly operating an electronic device hidden inside a bag.)

Banksy preparing the shredder. Photograph: Banksy/PA
Banksy preparing the shredder. Photograph: Banksy/PA

Dealers have speculated that this Banksy painting became more valuable after the artist’s intervention created a memorable moment. At least one prominent critic has hailed it as a “masterpiece of radical performance.” “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge,” Banksy pronounced on his Instagram account, where he posted a video about how he had prepared the shredder hidden in the frame.

The self-destructing painting is “the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction”, Alex Branczik, head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art in Europe, said of the incident in the statement. “Banksy didn’t destroy an art work in the auction, he created one,” Branczik added. The piece will be on view to the public at Sotheby’s in London on Saturday and Sunday. – New York Times

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