Billed as “an audacious piece of performance art”, it was offered with a £4m-6m estimate at the sale in London. The auction house reported that the lot drew nine bidders in the room, online and on the phone.
The final sum topped the auction record for Banksy, the £14.4m for Game Changer that sold at Christie’s in March this year, although the fact that it was sold to support the NHS likely played a key role in the bidding.
The current sale took place three years after the spray painting on canvas from 2006 (then titled Girl with Balloon) shredded itself moments after it was knocked down at £860,000 (£1.04m including premium), much to the surprise of those in attendance at the live auction.
The activation of a concealed shredder in the painting's Victorian-style frame was seemingly carried out via remote control by someone in the saleroom, although this has never been confirmed. Banksy subsequently released a video showing how the process was practiced which seemed to imply that the artist had originally intended to completely destroy the work.
At the 2018 sale however, the shredder apparently jammed and left the canvas half intact. The buyer of the work, a European collector who was long-standing client according to Sotheby’s, decided to complete the sale after the half-shredded work had quickly been retitled Love is in the Bin. It was also granted a new certificate by Pest Control, Banksy’s authentication body.
In a statement released at the time, the buyer commented: “When the hammer came down and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history.”
Now the buyer had made a major return. This time round the price including buyer's premium was £18.6m.