Buyer of shredded Banksy work goes through with deal

12 October 2018 - 12:16 By AFP Relaxnews
Banksy posted a photo of the artwork, midway through shredding, on his Instagram page with the caption 'going, going, gone'.
Banksy posted a photo of the artwork, midway through shredding, on his Instagram page with the caption 'going, going, gone'.
Image: Banksy/Instagram

The buyer of a work by street artist Banksy that was partially destroyed moments after it sold has gone through with the purchase, Sotheby's auction house said on Thursday.

The painting "Girl with Balloon" was passed through a shredder hidden in the frame just after it went under the hammer last week for £1,042,000 (about R20m).

The modified version has now been certified by Banksy's authentication body Pest Control as a new piece of work in its own right, entitled "Love is in the Bin".

The unnamed buyer, described as a female European collector and a long-standing client of Sotheby's, has proceeded with the purchase at the price agreed on the night.

"Banksy didn't destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one," said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's head of contemporary art for Europe.

"Following his surprise intervention on the night, we are pleased to confirm the sale of the artist's newly-titled 'Love is in the Bin', the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction."

The buyer was quoted as saying: "When the hammer came down last week 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."

PAINTING WORTH MORE THAN THE ORIGINAL

No one knows how the secretive artist activated a shredder hidden within the frame of his painting "Girl with Balloon".

The maverick British artist posted a video on Instagram in the wake of the prank accompanied by a quote attributed to Pablo Picasso - "the urge to destroy is also a creative urge".

He said he had fitted the shredder in case the painting should ever be put up for auction - where its final price set a joint record for his work.

"Bansky might think that by destroying his art he's undermining capitalists who buy it, but he's wrong," commented Mikael Faujour of the specialist French art magazine Artension.

The leftovers from this destruction will acquire a new prestige
Mikael Faujour

"The leftovers from this destruction will acquire a new prestige and additional monetary worth," he said.

Thierry Ehrmann, who heads Artprice, a firm which closely monitors art market prices, agreed that the prank had probably increased the value of the work.

It might now be worth "more than two million euros," he suggested.

"It's a performance in the line of Marcel Duchamp's 'Ready Made'," he said speaking of a term coined by the French artist in 1915 to describe a sometimes modified, but always common object, not usually thought of as a work of art.

"Banksy reminds people that, even in a prominent auction, all his art is fleeting," he added.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Arnaud Oliveux, an expert at the Artcurial auction house Paris suggested Banksy was careful not to destroy the whole of his painting.

Because it is only partially shredded, "it becomes something else, egged on by the social media buzz" and acquires the aura of "an iconic work of art", he said.

Artcurial will shortly auction three Banksy paintings, along with a resin-crafted figure of a rat holding a paintbrush signed by the artist.

Sotheby's claimed to have been surprised by Friday's auction prank, but some art experts have questioned how it was possible to pull it off without their knowledge.

Works of art and picture frames are usually studied with care and attention prior to sales, they say.

A Banksy work has self-destructed at Sotheby's auction house at the moment it sold for nearly 1.4 million dollars. As the hammer went down, the painting was sucked into a shredder hidden in the frame.

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