The Balloon Girl never ceases to make talk about her, and to spin the printing press. Banksy’s canvas, whose partial self-destruction three years ago caused a sensation, was auctioned in London, Thursday, October 14, for nearly 18.6 million pounds (21.8 million euros), a record for the British artist.
In 2018, just after a first acquisition, a crusher hidden in the frame had torn the lower half of the canvas to shreds during the auction session, already organized by the house Sotheby’s – the sale had just ended, at 1.2 million euros. This resounding action, which had provoked many reactions in the art world, was claimed by the mysterious street artist with the ambition to denounce the “Commodification” art. The work was then renamed Love is in the Bin (“Love is in the trash”).
“The most spectacular artistic event of the XXIe century “
Sotheby’s called the destruction “The most spectacular artistic happening of the XXIe century “, placing it in the“Legacy of anti-establishment art that began with [le mouvement] dada and Marcel Duchamp ”. “During this surrealist evening three years ago, I accidentally became the privileged owner of Love is in the Bin “, recalled the buyer, a European collector, quoted in a Sotheby’s press release in early September. But now is the time to part with it. “
Thursday, the offers swirled until pulverizing, very quickly after the beginning of the sale, the price at which the work had been bought in 2018. “I can’t tell you how terrified I am about knocking down that hammer”, said auctioneer Oliver Barker, to laughter from the audience, before auctioning the work for £ 16million – plus nearly £ 2.6million in fees – at a private collector from Asia.
A diptych version auctioned on Friday
Even before the sale, the graffiti, stenciled on a wall on London’s South Bank in 2002, had been named as Britain’s favorite work of art. The sale exceeds the previous record set in March by Game Changer, another Banksy canvas showcasing caregivers in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, sold for 16.75 million pounds (19.8 million euros) for the benefit of the British public health service.
Friday, a diptych version of The Balloon Girl will be auctioned, also in the British capital, this time at Christie’s. Produced in 2005, the two-part canvas is estimated at between 2.5 and 3.5 million pounds sterling (between 2.9 and 4.1 million euros).
The artist, who became known through a series of graffiti appearing on buildings, maintains the mystery of his identity. In 2005, he made the graffiti The flower thrower on a wall in Jerusalem, depicting a masked protester about to throw a bouquet of flowers. In October 2013, he made the streets of New York his playground by drawing almost one work a day for a month, his fans becoming treasure hunters on his heels.
Banksy is also using his graffiti bombshell to demonstrate his opposition to Brexit, his support for migrants, or even to warn about the climate emergency.