Love is in the bin: the Shredded Balloon Girl marks Banksy’s New Auction Record

The work by Banksy Love is in the Bin, nothing less than the Balloon Girl that in 2018 had self-destructed at auction, has set a new all-time record for the street artist Banksy. 16 million pounds (18,5 buyer's premium included) is the record price, against an estimate of 4-6 million.

Thus, the provocative work/performance by Banksy surpassed the previous record of Game Changer, the work honoring doctors and health care workers that was auctioned in the spring of 2021 for £14,4 million (£16,7 buyer's premium included).

Banksy and the criticism of the establishment.

Love is in the Bin is an icon of Banksy’s provocative and satirical art. The work was born on October 5, 2018, when a 2006 version of the unmistakable Girl with Balloon made with spray and acrylic on canvas was auctioned at Sotheby's in London. For the occasion, the artist had installed a remotely controllable mechanism in the frame: as soon as the work was sold for £1 million, the mechanism activated, and the canvas was half shredded.

It was one of the most ironic and provocative criticism of art market and collecting, but the value of the work has all but vanished, marking three years later sixteen times the price of the original.

Banksy - Love is in the Bin (Balloon Girl self-destructed)

Banksy, Love is in the Bin (detail)

"An unexpected work of performance art" was named by auctioneer Oliver Barker, who also joked about what might have happened. But this time the work was unharmed, and Sotheby's contemporary art department director Alex Branczik referred to Love is in the Bin as a piece that “is considered heir to a venerated legacy of anti-establishment art”.

Painting? Sculpture? Performance? Conceptual art? The shredded Balloon Girl opens up several questions about the nature of the work, which has surpassed the status of a painting representing a unique moment in the history of contemporary art, as well as one of the most successful works made by the Bristol street artist.

The auction records of the street artist Banksy

From iconic subjects such as the Balloon Girl to more recent paintings, Banksy's works have reached increasingly high prices in recent years, contributing to the consolidation of the street art market and making the Bristol artist one of the most sought-after artists of the moment. Let's look back at some of Banksy's auction records:

  1. Game Changer (2020) - The work that pays tribute to doctors and health workers engaged in the fight against Covid-19 was donated by the artist to Southampton General Hospital in England. Auctioned on March 23, 2021 at Christie's, it reached £16,758,000 (including buyer premium) and represents the artist's current record.
  2. Devolved Parliament (2009) - The satirical depiction of an English parliament in which chimpanzees take the place of politicians sold on October 3, 2019 for £9,879,500 (buyer premium included).
  3. Love is in the Air (2005) - Banksy's unmistakable flower thrower in a spray paint and oil on canvas version fetched $12,903,000 (buyer premium included, the equivalent of £9,178,871) in New York.
  4. Show me the Monet (2005) - This reimagining of Monet's Water Lilies in which the French Impressionist's idyllic nature is "polluted" by shopping carts and traffic cones fetched £7,551,600 (buyer premium included) in London.