This semi-fragmented artwork will be re-auctioned on October 14th, with an estimated sale price of 4 to 6 million pounds (US$5.5 million to US$8.3 million).

In 2018, a painting by Banksy began to self-destruct when it was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London.

Just after the spray-painted artwork of a girl with a balloon was sold for approximately £1 million (US$1.4 million), the alarm sounded and the work slowly began to fall from the paper shredder hidden in the frame. About halfway through the process, the shredder stopped – or stuck.

Sotheby’s continues to insist that it did not participate in the “prank”, even though it has announced that the work-still half-will return to auction on October 14 with an estimated price of 4 million to 6 million pounds.

“To be honest, we were not involved,” said Emma Baker, a contemporary art specialist at Sotheby’s in London. “It has now become an iconic image, ubiquitous in culture. It can be seen everywhere.”

If the auction reaches the highest estimate, the painting will appreciate by nearly 500% in the past three years.

Although Banksy’s other works were sold for higher prices-Christie’s auction house set a record of 23 million U.S. dollars in March. One of the oil paintings depicts a child playing with a nurse doll-the painting was originally titled “Girls and “Balloon” (2006), the artist changed his name to Love is in the Bin (2018) after shredding, and the pre-sale estimate of his work reached the highest level ever.

“If you look at the Banks market since the shredding event, the value of the works sold at auction has changed dramatically,” Baker said. “This is the highest valuation Banksy has ever made for a work, but if you look at the actual results Banksy has achieved, it still feels quite attractive and conservative.”

The 18 most expensive works that Banks sold at auction all occurred after the shredding event. According to Artnet’s price database, only one of the 18 works sold in 2019; the rest will be sold in 2020 or 2021.

“The market for Banksy’s work has undergone such a huge change,” Baker said. “This will be a real test.”

Anonymous seller

The 2018 buyer of the work was an unnamed European collector, and it became news when she announced through the auction house that she would continue the auction.

After the auction, she allowed Sotheby’s to display it in an impromptu exhibition. “About 5,000 people saw it through our door,” Baker said. “It’s incredible.”

The work was then loaned to a private museum in Baden-Baden, Germany, and then “long-term loaned” to the National Gallery in Stuttgart in 2019.

Baker said that after the sale, technicians at Banks certification agency Pest Control immediately disabled the shredder. “It doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “The mechanic is still inside, but it has been completely deactivated, so it won’t happen again.”


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