It will be offered 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 buyer is now selling the work and will be hoping to make a hefty return. It is being offered with a £4m-6m estimate at the sale in London on October 14. Prior to the auction it is being exhibited in Hong Kong, Taipei and New York before returning to Sotheby’s New Bond Street rooms where it will be offered in the same saleroom where the shredding incident originally took place.
Back in 2018, 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 female 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.”
Despite suggestions to the contrary, Sotheby’s has always insisted it had no part in the stunt. The firm’s chairman of Modern & Contemporary art Alex Branczik said: “When Girl with Balloon ‘self-destructed’ in our saleroom, Banksy sparked a global sensation that has since become a cultural phenomenon. During that memorable night, Banksy did not so much destroy an artwork by shredding it, but instead created one.”
Since the incident occurred, prices for Banksy have shot up considerably with unique printed versions Girl with Balloon having sold for over £1m and copies of the regular edition of 150 screenprints making £350,000 apiece.
If it sells at top estimate, Love is in the Bin would make the fifth highest price for Banksy at auction – the highest stands at a mammoth £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 certainly played a key role in the bidding.
In reference to the return of Love is in the Bin, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe Oliver Barker said: “Auctions are live theatre, and as with any live production we need to prepare for all eventualities, but we were Banskyed, and you can never prepare yourself for that.
“Banksy is the ultimate art world outlaw, and in one exhilarating and shocking moment, Sotheby’s became the unwitting stage for his audacious piece of performance art. We are looking forward to welcoming Love is in the Bin back to the very rooms where it was created this autumn.”