We may never know what the eternally anonymous Banksy intended with his latest stunt, in which his 2006 painting Girl With Balloon was shredded the instant it was sold at Sotheby’s for $1.4 million. Was the incident, which occurred last week, a success or a failure? Did he punk the art world by partially destroying his piece, or did the prank backfire when the piece possibly became more valuable after being partially destroyed? Well, here’s another twist in the story: As per The Guardian, the collector who purchased it? She’s keeping it.
The art world was stunned on October 5, when Banksy’s classic piece — which depicts a little girl drawn in stencil reaching out for a red balloon well out of reach, whose likeness was first displayed on a wall in the South Bank of London — was cut to ribbons. It was all thanks to a secret shredder built into the frame, as revealed by the artist in a video released by Banksy after the incident.
Thing is, the shredder appeared to jam, destroying only half of it. At that point, technicians at the auction house removed the damaged piece, its tendrils drooping out of the frame. They didn’t want to destroy it any further.
Since then, the piece, as is, has simply been re-named. The new title is Love Is in the Bin, as officially christened by Banksy’s authentication body, Pest Control.
Problem is, none of this has irked its new owner. The customer who bought it — a Sotheby’s regular from Europe whose name has been withheld — has stated that she’s going ahead with the sale, with no plans to put it back on the market for far more than she paid.
“When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked,” the collector said. “But gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.”
Not even Sotheby’s has been perturbed by Banksy’s stunt. Said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of European contemporary art:
“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.”
Nor does Sotheby’s top brass mind being punk’d by Banksy. Sotheby’s released a celebratory statement, which read:
“Banksy has a history with pranking art establishments, having previously pulled stunts in the Louvre, Tate Britain, the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum. Sotheby’s now joins that long and distinguished list.”
So back to our initial question: Was Banksy’s latest stunt a success or a failure? Or maybe a bit of both? Perhaps the issue is more existential: If you prank people or institutions for long enough, they eventually start to like it, whatever points you were trying to make get lost in the ether. And everyone makes lots and lots of money.
(Via The Guardian)