Banksy’s Self-Destructing Painting Sells for Record-Breaking $25.3 M. at Sotheby’s

Banksy’s Love Is in the Bin, comprised of the shreds of his famously self-destructing piece Girl with Balloon, fetched £18.6 million ($25.3 million) at a Sotheby’s sale in London on Thursday, generating a new record for the artist at auction. After 10 minutes of bidding, the work was bought by an anonymous European woman for well over its pre-sale estimate of £4 million–£6 million, according to the BBC.

The sale marks nearly three years since Girl With a Ballon (2006) was destroyed at an evening sale at Sotheby’s London. Seconds after selling for £1 million ($1.4 million), the work was unexpectedly lowered through a hidden shredder built into the bottom half of the frame and was sliced into ribbons. The auction house later dubbed it a night of “instant art world history.” Prior to its destruction, the work carried a pre-sale estimate of £200,000.

The reclusive British artist has denied rumors that the shredding was a publicity stunt orchestrated with the auction house. At the time, Sotheby’s placed the spectacle within the tradition of artists destroying their own artworks as performances.

The European collector who placed the winning bid following the destruction kept the partially-shredded piece, which was subsequently given the new name Love Is in the Bin by Banksy’s authentication committee. Since the sale, it has been on view at Germany’s Museum Frieder Burda and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. 

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s chairman of modern and contemporary art in Asia, said in a statement, “It has been a whirlwind to follow the journey of this now legendary piece and to have it back in our midst, offering it tonight in the very room it was created by the artist. Banksy is no stranger to making headlines and this latest chapter in his story has captured imaginations across the world—we can only begin to guess what might come next.”

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