It has been a few weeks since Banksy’s ‘Girl with a Balloon’ self-destructed after being sold for £860,000 at the Sotheby auction sale. Mere moments after being sold an alarm was triggered, while onlookers stared in disbelief as the painting began to shred to pieces through the frame. Banksy took to his Instagram to explain that the stunt was intentional, posting a video showing a man mounting a shredder into the thick canvas frame. “A few years ago, I secretly built a shredder into a painting. In case it was ever put up for auction,” read the text cuts. The video, captioned with a Picasso quote, ‘The urge to destroy is also a creative urge’, has been viewed more than 12 million times.
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“It appears we just got Banksy-ed. He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s European head of contemporary art.
Despite the high-profile stunt, it appears his idea did not go entirely to plan. Banksy recently uploaded a video, entitled Shred the Love (the director’s cut), articulating his plans for the painting was to completely shred, with the text, ‘in rehearsals it worked every time’. Sotheby’s revealed that the original bidder has agreed to by the painting, which Banksy has now renamed ‘Love is in the Bin’ for the same price that was affirmed in the auction. The anonymous female buyer has said in a statement ‘When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.
Sotheby has denied any involvement with the stunt. Alex Branczik, quoted, “Were we in on it? Absolutely not. Do you really think Banksy, who spent his youth stencilling walls in Bristol and dodging the local authorities, would want to collaborate with the art establishment? Come on, you should all know better that.”