In Depth

Woman who bought shredded Banksy Girl With Balloon painting to keep it

Buyer who paid £1.04m for artwork says she has her ‘own piece of art history’

The woman who bought the Banksy painting that self-destructed after selling for more than £1m at auction has announced she will keep the painting.

The art world “was left stunned when around half of Girl With Balloon, one of the street artist’s most famous stencil drawings, was reduced to ribbons by a shredder built into the frame after the hammer went down at Sotheby’s in London on 5 October”, says The Guardian.

The auction house said the painting had now been retitled “Love is in the Bin” and authenticated by Banksy's Pest Control agency.

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

“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 European woman who bought the piece, who does not want to be named, said: “At first I was shocked, but I realised I would end up with my own piece of art history.”

"Girl With Balloon," which depicts a small child reaching up toward a heart-shaped red balloon, “was originally stenciled on a wall in east London and has been endlessly reproduced, becoming one of Banksy's best-known images”, reports the Daily Telegraph.

It “still remains unclear how the shredder was activated”, says the BBC and it is also not clear if the auction house was aware that the painting contained a shredder with a spokesperson only saying the destruction was a “surprise”.

A video posted on social media by Banksy stated that the device was secretly built into the painting “a few years ago… in case it was ever put up for auction”, while his agent said last week that the artist was unlikely to have cooperated with Sotheby’s, since he would not collude with an institution.

The destruction has prompted copycat actions with a £40,000 piece of Banksy artwork “now worth under £1 after a collector shredded it in attempt to copy the famous artist”, says the Bristol Post.

A spokesman for art dealing firm My Art Broker told the paper: “We've had a number of Banksy print owners contact us today asking if they shred their artwork will it be worth more.

“Please, please don't. The events of the last 24 hours are a very unique piece of art history.”

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