The hype around anonymous artist Banksy does not seem to be slowing down with his infamous shredded painting ‘Love is in the Bin’ selling for USD $25.4 million (AUD $34.3 million) at an auction through Sotheby’s.
The sale marks a record for the subversive artist, with the highest price previously fetched for one of his pieces being USD $22 million in March 2021. The work, titled ‘Game Changer’ features a young boy playing with a red cross nurse doll in a cape, rather than his Batman and Spider-man toys which can be seen in a nearby bin.
The piece was created as an ode to the hard work of Britain’s National Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proceeds of the record-breaking sale were donated in full to support the wellbeing of University Southampton Hospital staff and patients.
You’ll likely remember the fuss that ‘Love is in the Bin’ caused back in 2018 when the original image of the little girl holding her balloon was sold for USD $1.4 million dollars at an auction, only for a shredder built into the frame to activate and shred half of the artwork — much to the surprise of the crowd.
“I can’t tell you how terrified I am to bring down this hammer,” joked Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker as he concluded the bidding.
According to Sotheby’s, it marked the first time a piece of art was actually created during an auction.
Banksy addressed sceptics who suspected the auction house had been in on the stunt with an Instagram post reading, “Shredding the Girl and Balloon – the Director’s cut.
Link in bio. Some people think it didn’t really shred. It did. Some people think the auction house were in on it, they weren’t.”
As the historic piece of art went up for auction, Sotheby’s had noted the price guide as being between USD $5 million to $8 million, which still would have been a fantastic return on the USD $1.4 million it was purchased for.
The huge price tag the work commanded instead seems to be a nod to not only the appeal of the artist himself but the importance of the moment the painting was shredded in art and pop culture history.
The identity of Banksy remain unconfirmed and the subject of speculation.