Banksy
The Banksy ‘Girl with Balloon’ picture that was automatically shredded in its frame after being sold at auction in a prank by the street artist. Image: Sotheby’s.

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The picture automatically shredded itself in the frame it was hanging in moments after coming under the hammer for £1.04m (including buyer’s premium) at the evening auction on October 5 at Sotheby’s in London. 

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art Europe, said: “Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one. Following his surprise intervention on the night, we are pleased to confirm the sale of the artist’s newly-titled Love is in the Bin, the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.”

The painting will be on show at Sotheby’s this weekend. It was granted a certificate by Pest Control, Banksy’s authentication body, which renamed it from its original title Girl with Balloon.

The auction house said the buyer is a female European collector and a long-standing client. In a statement released by Sotheby’s, the buyer commented: “When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history.”

Banksy posted a video of the prank on Instagram showing the construction of the shredder inside the frame.

Art market commentators have speculated about when the shredder was placed in the frame, and whether Banksy triggered the shredding himself with a remote control in the saleroom or whether it was someone hired by him. 

“Instant art world history”

Sotheby’s maintains it had no prior knowledge of the prank. It said: “Catching the art world by surprise, this unexpected piece of performance art became instant art world history, making it the first time a new work had been created in the course of an auction.

“Banksy has a history with pranking art establishments, having previously pulled stunts in the Louvre, Tate Britain, the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum. Sotheby’s now joins that long and distinguished list.”