Banksy prank 'a coup on the art world'

Oscar Cross
October 14, 2018

But nearly as soon as the hammer fell, the canvas was passed through a secret shredder hidden in the large Victorian-style frame, leaving the bottom half in tatters and only a solitary red balloon left on a white background in the frame.

The auction house said the painting had now been retitled "Love is in the Bin" and authenticated by Banksy's Pest Control agency.

Variants of "balloon girl" have appeared over the years - an image of the girl reimagined as a young Syrian refugee was projected on Nelson's column on Trafalgar Square in 2014, while in 2017, ahead of the United Kingdom general election, he released images of a print of the girl letting go of the balloon, this time with the balloon bearing the Union Jack flag on it. Banksy pieces - murals or otherwise - continue to fetch huge sums either through traditional auction houses or other routes.

Sotheby's confirmed that the buyer, a long-standing female client of the prestigious auction house, has agreed to buy the work for the price agreed at auction.

Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art for Europe at Sotheby's, says it is "the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction". "People who had never had an exhibition, and had no hope of getting into the traditional art world, discovered that using tools that Banksy showed us, we could put art on the streets".

The European woman who bought the piece, who does not want to be named, said: "At first I was shocked, but I realised I would end up with my own piece of art history".


The iconic image of a girl reaching out for a red, heart-shaped balloon, sold for $1.4 million.

For an artist who's known for his stunts, this could be Banksy's most ideal art world prank.

The gallery version featured spray paint and acrylic on canvas, mounted on a board. "Nobody thought it was weird for the frame to have a power source (for the shredder) or the fact that there were blades in the frame?" one post reads claiming it was all a "pre-planned stunt".

Other recent works included the opening of Dismaland, his dystopian, Disneyland-esque theme park in 2015, which he described as a "family theme park unsuitable for children".

The lot was estimated to sell for £200,000 to £300,000 before the auction.

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