Just three years ago, Banksy’s Girl With a Ballon (2006) made headlines after it sold for £1 million ($1.4 million) at an evening sale at Sotheby’s London. But it wasn’t the price that caused a stir, instead it was that the bottom half of the piece was shredded immediately after the auctioneer’s hammer dropped. Now, that piece will return to the auction block.
On October 14, the piece will again be auctioned by Sotheby’s London during the house’s contemporary art evening sale. When Girl With a Balloon sold in 2018, it carried a pre-sale estimate of £200,000. Since the viral moment, Banksy’s authentication committee, Pest Control, certified the work under its new title Love is in the Bin (2018), and it now carries an estimate of £4 million–£6 million ($5.5 million–$8.3 million).
The artist has long denied that Sotheby’s was in on the stunt. The auction house reported that the European collector who placed the winning bid for the work in 2018, decided to keep it in its new form. (Since its 2018 sale, the work has gone on view at the Museum Frieder Burda and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, both in Germany.)
In a press release, Sotheby’s likened the stunt to Robert Rauschenberg’s famed 1953 work, Erased de Kooning, as part of a tradition of destroying artworks as an artistic statement. In a statement, Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and chairman of modern and contemporary art, said, “Today this piece is considered heir to a venerated legacy of anti-establishment art that began with Dada and Marcel Duchamp more than a century ago.”
In recent months, Banksy’s market has reached news height. In March, his Game Changer (2020), an ode to NHS healthcare workers in the United Kingdom that depicts a child playing with a toy a nurse, sold for £16.7 million ($22.9 million) at Christie’s, setting a new record for the elusive artist.
Love is in the Bin will go on public display on September 4 in London at Sotheby’s New Bond salesroom and will then travel to Hong Kong, Taipei, and New York before returning to London for the sale.