Shredded Banksy canvas sells for a record $ 25.4 million

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LONDON, UK (AFP) – A partially shredded canvas of one of Banksy’s most famous works auctioned in London on Thursday for £ 18.58million ($ 25.4million), a new record for the British artist, three years after purchasing the artwork for a fraction of that price.

The artwork – now called ‘Love is in the Bin’ – sold for almost £ 1.1million at the same location at the Sotheby’s auction house in October 2018, before going from dramatically through a shredder hidden in the large Victorian-style frame moments later.

The surreal farce was orchestrated by the elusive and irreverent Banksy, whose identity would be known to only a handful of friends, and caused a sensation around the world.

Thursday night’s sale, which saw nine bidders battling for around 10 minutes for the work formerly titled ‘Girl With Balloon’, breaks the previous record of £ 16.75million set for Banksy in March.

Auctions for ‘Love is in the Bin’ quickly dropped from the starting price of £ 2.5million, with auctioneer Oliver Barker reveling in the drama.

“I can’t tell you how terrified I am to drop that hammer,” he said as the final offer was not contested.

A worker walks past ‘Love Is in the Air’, a silkscreen on paper, by British artist Banksy, a day before the unveiling of an exhibition in Rome on Monday, September 7, 2020 (AP Photo / Alessandra Tarantino)

The work was reportedly sold to a private investor. The seventh lot in a vast supply of contemporary art, it had an estimated selling price of £ 4-6million.

“It has been almost three years to the day since one of the most ingenious moments in performance art of this century entered auction history,” Sotheby’s Alex Branczik said after the record. “Banksy is no stranger to making headlines and this latest chapter in his story has captured the imaginations of the world – we can only begin to guess what might follow.”

The 2018 stunt, which poked fun at the traditionally staid world of fine art, is typical of the graffiti artist’s disruptive style, evident since his work began to appear on the streets of Bristol, in the southwest of England, In the 1980’s.

It was the latest in a long history of unpredictable movements for the provocative guerrilla artist, whose work has appeared across Britain and around the world.

The partly ragged canvas, purchased in 2018 by an anonymous European woman and exhibited for a month in a museum in Germany in 2019, depicts a small child reaching out for a red heart-shaped balloon.

The original, which first appeared on an east London wall, has been reproduced endlessly in print and online, and has been appropriated by some of the world’s best-known brands. It had been called one of the most important works of art of the turn of the 21st century in the British press, before the shredded version was given a new certificate and date by Pest Control, the authenticating body of Banksy, and never gives it the new title.

A Banksy mural showing an Israeli border guard and a Palestinian in a pillow fight in one of the rooms at “The Walled Off Hotel” in Bethlehem, West Bank on Friday, March 3, 2017 (Dusan Vranic / AP )

Banksy’s latest works have appeared in several British seaside towns over the summer, with the country’s most famous street artist confirming that these are his creations in an Instagram video titled “A Great British Spraycation” .

It showed him on a summer trip in a dilapidated motorhome with spray paint cans hidden in a cooler.

In recent years, he has captured the attention of the contemporary art world with his social commentaries and causes – migrants, opposition to Brexit, denunciation of radical Islamists – while fueling the effervescence of wealthy art markets.

In March, labor that broke its previous record for selling prices honored caregivers during the coronavirus pandemic, with profits going to the state-run National Health Service (NHS). The painting, ‘Game Changer’, was sold to an anonymous buyer for £ 14.4million plus costs after a fierce auction at Christie’s auction house in London.

Contemporary art auctions have reached an all-time high over the past year, boosted by online sales and the arrival of digital art in the form of “NFT,” according to an annual report by Artprice Monday.

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