Auction  October 15, 2021  Anna Claire Mauney

Shredded Banksy Sells Again & Sets a $25.4 Million Record

Sotheby's

Banksy, Love is in the Bin, 2018.

On Thursday, October 14, one of Banksy’s most iconic artworks—a self-destructive piece entitled Love is in the Bin—sold for triple its high estimate at $25,383,941 (£18,582,000), setting a new record for the artist.

Christie's

Banksy, Game Changer, 2020. Oil on canvas. 35 7/8 x 35 7/8 in.

The artist’s previous record, a $22 million sale of Game Changer, was set earlier this year at Christie's, in a mid-March sale with proceeds benefiting a UK charity.

This most recent $25.4 million sale occurred at Sotheby’s London as part of the day’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction. It all went down in ten minutes, with nine bidders—both in-person and on the phone—vying for the masterpiece. In the end, the partially destroyed art piece went to an anonymous collector represented by Nick Buckley Wood.

As Alex Branczik, Chairman of Modern & Contemporary Art, Sotheby's Asia, observed the night of the auction, “It is almost three years to the day since one of the most ingenious moments of performance art this century made auction history. It has been a whirlwind to follow the journey of this now legendary piece and to have it back in our midst, offering it tonight in the very room it was created by the artist.”

Sotheby's

Oliver Barker Fields Bids at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London.

Banksy—a graffiti artist well known for his anonymity and willingness to toy with the art world—made major headlines during that 2018 Sotheby’s sale when he created the final artwork mid-auction. Though the artist frequently pulls news-worthy stunts, this particular bit of performance art still stands out from the pack.

As many well-remember, the artwork originally entitled Girl with Balloon passed through a hidden shredder mere seconds after it was sold for $1.4 million. Though the artwork stopped mid-way through the shredder—creating a now visually iconic half-in, half-out final product—this was apparently not the artist’s plan. A video released a few days after the 2018 auction seems to suggest that the shredder malfunctioned, that Banksy had intended for the piece to be fully destroyed.

Sotheby's

Banksy, Love is in the Bin, 2018.

One can’t help but wonder what may have happened had the shredding gone as planned. Would the resultant artwork have received the same title? Would it have returned to auction and pulled the record-setting $25.4 million?

A few days after the original auction, Banksy’s authentication body, Pest Control, issued a new certificate of authenticity, date, and title—Love is in the Bin—for the artwork.

Sotheby's. © Bizzy Arnott.

Sotheby's New Bond Street flag.

Sotheby auction officials have been clear that they had no prior knowledge of the artist's plans for that 2018 auction. As auctioneer and chairman of Sotheby's Europe Oliver Barker put it, the auction house was "Banksyed." Still, Sotheby's has wholeheartedly embraced the event. And the fanfare surrounding the artwork’s 2021 return makes this abundantly clear.

The Sotheby’s London flag was replaced on auction day with a partially shredded one. And, of course, the auction house made its news releases highlighted the long, art-historical tradition of anti-art that Love is in the Bin—and perhaps Sotheby’s itself—is now part of.

About the Author

Anna Claire Mauney

Anna Claire Mauney is Managing Editor for Art & Object. A writer and artist living in North Carolina, she is interested in illustration, the 18th-century, and viceregal South America. She is also the co-host of An Obsessive Nature, a podcast about writing and pop culture.

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