Banksy’s shredded painting resold for record $25.4M

LONDON — Leave it to Banksy to shred another record.

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The British street artist’s painting that stunned bidders by self-destructing three years ago at an auction was resold by Sotheby’s on Thursday for $25.4 million, The New York Times reported. The winning bid for “Love is in the Bin” -- originally titled “Girl With Balloon” -- includes a buyer’s premium, according to the BBC.

The sale of “Girl With Balloon” left buyers gasping, and not only for its selling price of $1.4 million in October 2018. As soon as the winning telephone bid was verified, Banksy’s most recognized work suddenly passed through a shredder that was installed in the frame, the BBC reported. Only the bottom half of the painting was shredded, as the mechanism jammed, the network reported.

There were no artistic surprises on Thursday, other than the staggeringly high winning bid for the painting by the street artist, who specializes in political satire.

“I can’t tell you how terrified I am to bring down this hammer,” Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker joked after 10 minutes of bidding, according to Reuters. Barker was the auctioneer three years ago when the bottom half of the painting shredded after the hammer was dropped on the sale.

The painting had been projected to sell between $4 million and $5 million, but after nine bids it was bought by telephone by a client that more than doubled Banksy’s previous record for a painting, the Times reported. Sotheby’s sold “Devolved Parliament” for $12.1 million in 2019, the newspaper reported.

The identity of the seller at Thursday’s auction was not revealed, CNN reported. Sotheby’s would only say the buyer was a female collector from Europe and a longtime client of the auction house. The new buyer has the option to pay in cryptocurrency.

“It’s such an infamous work,” Acoris Andipa, a London-based dealer who specializes in Banksy’s paintings and prints, told the Times. “Together with Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi,’ it’s been the world’s most talked-about artwork of the last two or three years.”

The piece had been on permanent loan to Germany’s Staatsgalerie Stuttgart Museum since March 2019, according to The Guardian.

“When ‘Girl with Balloon’ ‘self-destructed’ in our saleroom, Banksy sparked a global sensation that has since become a cultural phenomenon,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s chairman of modern and contemporary art, said in a statement. “During that memorable night, Banksy 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.”


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