The piece “self-destructed” during a Sotheby’s auction in 2018. (photos by and courtesy Robert Casterline)
A Banksy piece that self-destructed during a 2018 Sotheby’s auction in London is going back on the block, in all its disheveled and deliberately destroyed glory. “Girl with a Balloon” (2006) made headlines when a shredder embedded in its frame automatically started slicing the painting into strips as soon as the hammer went down at a bid of £953,829 (~$1,251,423).
Right up there with Maurizio Cattelan’s “Banana” in Hyperallergic’s internal archive of tacky art world gimmicks, the incident prompted days of insufferable, boring, and useless questions, like “is it more valuable now?” (An irony, since Banksy admitted to orchestrating the whole thing as a prank on the high-end art market.) In keeping with auction houses’ tendency of inventing and claiming to break inane records no one previously cared about, Sotheby’s boasted the sale as “the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself.”
Other versions of the work, which features the anonymous artist’s iconic “Girl and Balloon” imagery stenciled on his street murals, have fetched various sums at auction over the years, but the famously half-grated canvas may top the ranks. Now titled “Love is in the Bin,” the piece will be offered by Sotheby’s in London on October 14 and carries a pre-sale estimate of £4-6 million (~$5.5-8.3 million.) Here’s to hoping the piece self-destructs again and the cycle continues, until millionaires are paying fortunes for a pile of shredded fabric.