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Banksy’s iconic half-shredded painting from 2018 is up for auction again—and could fetch £6 million or P414 million

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Sep 08, 2021 9:24 pm

Will the self-destructing painting be completely shredded this time?

In 2018, elusive British street artist Banksy’s iconic image titled Girl with Balloon went under the hammer at the Contemporary Art Auction of Sotheby’s in London. The spray paint and acrylic on canvas artwork depicts a girl reaching out towards a red, heart-shaped balloon. It was sold for £1.1 million (P75.9 million) to an unnamed collector.

Just as the auctioneer was about to hit the final hammer to signal the end of the auctions, a whizzing sound was heard on the auction floor as Banksy’s framed work began to pass through a shredder hidden within its Victorian-style frame. 

But in the middle of the action, the shredder stopped, leaving the painting half-shredded. It was immediately whisked away following the stunt that caught the art world by surprise.

In Banksy's stunt that caught the art world by surprise, his 'Girl with Balloon' spray paint on canvas piece gets shredded halfway through as the Contemporary Art Auction was about to come to a close in 2018. Screenshot from Banksy's blog on YouTube

That half-shredded artwork, now titled Love is in the Bin, will be going under the hammer again on Oct. 14 at the London auction house, with an estimated selling price of up to £6 million (P414 million).

"That surreal evening three years ago, I became the accidental—but very privileged—owner of 'Love is in the Bin'," the collector said in a statement released by Sotheby's. 

"It has been an incredible journey to have been part of the story of how one of the most famous artworks in the world came to be, but now it is time to let the painting go."

The image in the part-shredded canvas, which was exhibited for a month at a museum in Germany in 2019, was originally stenciled on a wall in east London and has become one of Banksy’s emblematic images.

In the Sotheby’s listing, the artwork is now described as an artwork mounted on board, “framed by the artist with remotely controlled shredding mechanism hidden in the frame."

According to AFP, the painting went on public display at Sotheby's in London and will embark on a global tour to Hong Kong, Taipei and New York before it returns to the British capital.

Banksy posted a short video on social media in 2018 that shows the mechanism behind the stunt. It appears that the artist intended the artwork to be shredded all the way as it showed trial pieces going through the shredder with the note: “In rehearsals it worked every time…”

Sotheby’s contemporary art chairman Alex Branczik told AFP that Banksy’s stunt in 2018 “did not so much destroy an artwork by shredding it, but instead created one.”

“Today this piece is considered heir to a venerated legacy of anti-establishment art,” Branczik noted, adding that the artwork is “the ultimate Banksy artwork and a true icon of recent art history.”

Check out below Banksy’s behind-the-scenes video of his 2018 stunt at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction.

Banner and thumbnail photos by Tolga Akmen/AFP