A Banksy painting was bought for £ 18.5million three years after it was torn up at auction.
The work of the elusive street artist Love is in the trash was sold by Sotheby’s on Thursday for £ 16million. Including a buyer’s premium, the buyer paid a total of £ 18.5million.
Its price has far exceeded expectations that it would attract bids of between £ 4million and £ 6million.
The auction house said the price was a record for Banksy – who is known for his stenciled images on walls around the world that often make socio-political remarks.
His painting, initially titled Girl with balloon, sold at the same auction house for £ 1.1million in 2018.
The canvas painting depicts a small child reaching out for a red heart-shaped balloon, an image that was originally stenciled on an east London wall in 2002. It has become one of the most popular images. best known from Banksy and has been reproduced millions of times.
As soon as the sale was closed, the canvas began to slide off the bottom of the frame and tear to pieces at the sound of a siren. The shredder stopped halfway across the canvas, but Banksy reportedly said he intended to shred it completely.
Sotheby’s said it had no prior knowledge of the crusher’s existence, but said it was the “first work of art in history to be created live at an auction. “.
Immediately after the sale, Banksy’s representatives deactivated the grinder, but left the mechanics in the frame. They then renamed the work of Girl with balloon at Love is in the trash.
Banksy reportedly said he had prepared the self-destruction mechanism in case the work was put up for auction.
Alex Branczik, Director of Modern and Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Asia, said: “It has been almost three years to the day since one of the most ingenious moments in performance art of this century entered the scene. history of auctions.
“It was a whirlwind to follow the course of this now legendary piece and to find it among us, offering it this evening in the very room where it was created by the artist.
“Banksy is no stranger to making headlines and this latest chapter in his story has captured the imaginations of the world – we can only begin to guess what might happen next.”
Mr Branczik also said the self-destruct stunt “didn’t so much destroy a work of art by shredding it, but rather created one”.
Self-destructive art is an art form that originated in England in the late 1950s and used by its pioneer – Jewish artist and refugee Gustav Metzger – to express the horror of previous events and of World War II.
In March, Banksy raised more than £ 16million for health projects by auctioning Game changer, a hand painted image of a boy playing with superhero dolls.
While Batman and Spiderman are in what appears to be a waste paper bin, the boy holds up the silhouette of a masked nurse wearing a cape.
Banksy donated the painting to Southampton University Hospital in May 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic.
It was auctioned 10 months later and the proceeds were donated to the hospital and other health groups across the country.