Art/Design, News & Events

Banksy’s self-destructing artwork breaks records in $25.4 million USD sale

What’s next for Banksy?

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Nov 20, 2021

Sotheby’s recently sold Banksy’s self-destructing painting for a record-breaking $25.3 million.


Love Is in the Bin,” a Banksy piece made up of shards of his notoriously self-destructing painting “Girl with Balloon,” got £18.6 million ($25.4 million) at a Sotheby’s auction in London last month, setting a new auction record for the artist. The sculpture was purchased for much over its pre-sale estimate of $5.5-$8.2 million after only ten minutes of bidding.


“Girl with Balloon” (2006) was destroyed at an evening sale at Sotheby’s London about three years ago. The work was unexpectedly lowered through a secret shredder installed into the bottom half — seconds after selling for £1 million ($1.4 million) — two-thirds of the piece was sliced into ribbons. It was then labeled “instant art world history” by the auction house. The sculpture had a pre-sale estimate of £200,000 before it was destroyed.


Rumors had it that the shredding was a PR ploy orchestrated with the auction house and it has been debunked by the secretive British artist. Sotheby’s categorized the event as part of a long tradition of artists performing acts by destroying their own pieces of art. There is so much to contest in this notion, but for now, let’s just play along with it.


Following the destruction, the European collector who submitted the winning bid saved the partially shredded piece, which Banksy’s authenticity committee renamed “Love Is in the Bin.” It has been on display at the Frieder Burda Museum in Germany and the National Gallery in London since the sale at Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.


“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,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s chairman of modern and contemporary art in Asia, said in a statement.


Banksy is no stranger to making headlines, and this latest chapter in his saga has piqued people’s interest all over the world—we can only speculate on what may happen next.


If you ask me, though, this act is getting a little bit outdated. After all, Banksy started out as a street artist, and now he is auctioning off his work and destructions of it for millions of dollars in a setting that is exclusive and meant for high art consumption. What does this say of street art? Is it really dead?  Who’s to say! We can only wait and see what will happen years down the line.


In related art news, designer Martin Margiela is now an artist.


Photo via Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s