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Banksy, Love is in the Bin (2018)
Banksy, Love is in the Bin (2018)Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Banksy’s self-destructing artwork breaks records in £18.6 million sale

If Love is in the Bin was supposed to poke fun at the art market, then the art market had the last laugh

In 2018, one of Banksy’s best-known works, Girl With Balloon, was sold at Sotheby’s, fetching more than £1 million before alarms sounded and it shredded itself in its frame at the auction house. After deciding to hang onto the artwork, rechristened Love is in the Bin, the buyer sent it back to auction this week, with a guide price of £4 million to £6 million.

As expected, keeping the self-destructing piece (which was supposed to shred completely, but jammed halfway through) turned out to be a good call. Love is in the Bin didn’t just quadruple the buyer’s investment but, after a ten-minute bidding battle, went for eighteen times the original price at a record £18.6 million.

The new sale took place almost three years to the day since the infamous prank, with Alex Branczik, the chairman of modern and contemporary art at Sotheby’s Asia, calling the artwork: “One of the most ingenious moments of performance art this century.” 

“Banksy is no stranger to making headlines and this latest chapter in his story has captured imaginations across the world,” Branczik adds. “We can only begin to guess what might come next.”

Banksy’s work has been steadily increasing in value for some time, as marked by a series of broken records. In 2019, his portrait of MPs as a room full of chimps, Devolved Parliament, went for £9.9 million; this year, his tribute to the NHS, Game Changer, reached a new high of £14.4 million (without fees). Profits from the auctioned artworks that are still in his possession generally go toward charitable causes, previously including a Bethlehem hospital and a rescue boat for refugees

The street artist originally showcased the semi-self-destruction of Love is in the Bin on Instagram, stating that the auction house wasn’t in on the prank. He also followed up with a short documentary — Shredding the Girl and Balloon — that detailed how the shredder was installed. Banksy is yet to acknowledge the new sale, however, having not updated his Instagram since posting about his Great British Spraycation earlier this year. 

Revisit Dazed’s list of Banksy’s most infamous pranks here.