Banksy's work that self-destroyed after being auctioned is resold for 18.9 million euros

The famous Banksy graffiti with the image of a girl and a heart-shaped balloon, which self-destroyed after being sold at a mythical auction three years ago, has been resold this Thursday in a new bid organized by Sotheby’s for 18, 9 million euros to a private buyer. The price of the work, which had been estimated between about 4 and 6 million, has exceeded the expectations of the auction house. Oliver Barker, after hitting the hammer, joked: “The work is still there, I can’t believe it”, referring to the scare caused at the sale of the work three years ago.

It was on October 5 of 2018 when, after the hammer confirmed the winning bid of Girl with balloon , worth 1.2 million euros, a hidden mechanism began to crush the work before the astonished eyes of those present. The self-destruction process was halted in the middle due to a system failure that, according to the artist on his Instagram, “always worked in rehearsals.” Banksy explained in a video how he had installed the shredder and, quoting Picasso, justified it: “The impulse to destroy is also a creative impulse.”

The work, which was left hanging from the golden frame with half of the canvas cut into strips, was renamed by the artist as Love is in the bin . In the end, the act of destruction became a moment of creation and that unexpected performance marked a milestone as it was the first time that a new work had been produced in the course of a public tender. Sotheby’s, which was also the organizer of that bid, maintains that this work “is undoubtedly Banksy’s largest work to date.”

Artist Banksy explains how he assembled the shredder in the painting

Banksy first painted the image of the girl with the red balloon on a wall on Great Eastern Street, in London, in 2006. The version auctioned at 2018 was sketched with spray paint and acrylic on canvas. After its destruction, now renamed Love is in the Trash, was publicly exhibited in museums in London, Hong Kong, Taipei and New York. Banksy, who has never confirmed his identity, is one of the . His most valuable work is The Game Changer , a painting created to raise funds for the English health system after the pandemic, which was sold last March for 19 millions of euros. Third place is occupied by the transferred Parliament , a canvas with the image of the English House of Commons full of chimpanzees, which was sold for about 11 million in 2019.

The mysterious artist began to do graffiti on the streets of Bristol in the 1990s and drew attention for his satirical tone when addressing topics such as class struggle, immigration and surveillance. His street art includes graffiti of police officers kissing and a chimpanzee holding a sign that says, ‘Laugh now, but one day I’ll be in charge.’ Banksy has also tried to poke fun at the art market and, between the years 2005 and 2007, placed various false works among the collections of the most famous museums in the world. This Friday, the day after the bidding at Sotheby’s, the Christie’s house will put out to tender a diptych related to this work and also entitled Girl with a balloon, two small canvases of 30 centimeters, with starting prices between three and four million euros.

El díptico 'Niña con globo' del artista británico Banksy, que forma parte de la próxima subasta del 15 de octubre en Christie's.
The diptych ‘Girl with a balloon’ by British artist Banksy, which is part of the next auction of the 15 October at Christie’s. TOBY MELVILLE (Reuters)

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