That Shredded Banksy Painting Sold For Far More Than It Cost Before It Was ‘Destroyed’

Banksy has remained relatively quiet in the plague years, with just a handful of new works popping up in 2020 and 2021 thus far. But one of his most famous works from earlier in his career is still making headlines, this time for being sold for much more “destroyed” than it was worth intact.

The commodification of, well, everything has certainly made things interesting during a pandemic-aided period of rapid value appreciation across all sorts of markets. The trading card industry is as hot as ever, for example, and art is no exception. But the recent sale of Banksy’s infamous shredded painting is certainly notable. According to the New York Times, the retitled piece that was infamously shredded after a sale in 2018 sold for a record for the artist’s work.

The Banksy painting that sensationally self-destructed three years ago after selling for $1.4 million at auction was resold by Sotheby’s Thursday for 18.6 million pounds, or $25.4 million, a record for the artist.

That work’s “destruction” shocked observers in 2018 after it was remotely ran through a shredder built into the artwork’s frame by the artist himself. As the Times pointed out, though the statement Banksy was trying to make with the painting was that value in art is entirely subjective and, sometimes, temporary, many expects correctly predicted that the shredding and subsequent attention it was given only made the painting significantly more valuable. And popular.

The artwork, which started as a spray-painted canvas from 2006 called “Girl With Balloon,” had been the last lot of Sotheby’s equivalent “Frieze Week” sale in October 2018. Immediately after being bought in a telephone bid, for $1.4 million, an alarm went off in the salesroom. Sotheby’s staffers and the audience at the auction gasped as the painting slid through its elaborate gold frame and shredded, then jammed halfway through. It was carried out via a remote-controlled mechanism hidden in the frame. Sotheby’s declared afterward that it had been “Banksy-ed.”

“Love Is in the Bin,” with its shredded lower half dangling under the frame, was displayed behind a protective glass screen at Sotheby’s. It had been offered for sale by an unidentified European collector. It was exhibited for 11 months next to revered old masters at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in Germany in 2019-20. During that period, the Staatsgalerie said, it attracted 180,000 visitors, about double its usual attendance.

Banksy’s work is all about getting attention, of course, so that was certainly achieved by the viral fame that piece got in the aftermath of turning most of it to very expensive ribbon. But despite his best efforts, all that paper has only gotten more valuable to observers in the years that have passed.