A partially shredded canvas of one of Banksy’s most celebrated works has sold in London for £18.6 million (€21.9m), a record price for the artist.
The work, called Love is in the Bin, had an estimated selling price of £4-6m (€5-7m) for today’s auction at Sotheby’s.
The artwork – formerly called Girl With Balloon – sold for nearly £1.1m at the same location in October 2018 before it dramatically passed through a shredder hidden in its frame moments after bidding ended.
The stunt, which poked fun at the staid world of fine art, is typical of the graffiti artist’s irreverent style after his work began appearing on the streets of Bristol in southwest England in the 1980s.
It was the latest in a long history of unpredictable moves for the provocative guerilla artist, whose work has appeared across Britain and around the world.
The partially shredded canvas shows a small child reaching up toward a heart-shaped red balloon.
The original, which first appeared on a wall in east London, has been reproduced endlessly in prints and online, and appropriated by some of the world’s best-known brands.
It had been called one of the most significant artworks of the early 21st century in the British press, before the shredded version was granted a new certificate and date by Pest Control, Banksy’s authentication body, and given the new title.
Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s contemporary art chairman, said Banksy’s stunt at its last sale “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,” he added, calling it “the ultimate Banksy artwork and a true icon of recent art history”.
His latest works have appeared recently in several British seaside towns.
Meanwhile in March, a work honouring caregivers during the coronavirus pandemic fetched a record £14.4 million at auction, which was donated to the National Health Service.