Banksy Authenticates and Renames His Shredded $1.4 Million Painting—Which the Buyer Plans to Keep

Sotheby's now calls it "the first work in history ever created during a live auction."

Banksy's Girl with a Balloon appeared to shred itself after selling for $1.4 million at Sotheby's on Friday night. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Banksy’s self-destructing painting saga has entered its next chapter.

Sotheby’s has revealed that the winning bidder of the artist’s Girl with Balloon, described as a “female European collector” and a “longstanding client” who shelled out $1.4 million for the work last Friday, has decided to keep it in its shredded form after a week of negotiations.

“When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history,” the anonymous collector said in a statement.

Banksy has in turn agreed to “re-authenticate” the piece with a new title, Love Is in the Bin (2018). (It is currently unclear which came first: the collector’s decision to keep the work or Banksy’s decision to re-authenticate and rename it.)

Sotheby’s, for its part, is making the most of its publicity coup, describing the work—which spontaneously shredded in the middle of the auction room as soon as the gavel came down—as “the first work in history ever created during a live auction.”

The newly re-christened painting will go on public view at Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries in London this weekend (Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.).

Much has been made of the fact that the seemingly destructive act may have, in fact, increased the value of the work significantly. (One enterprising collector even went ahead and shredded his own Banksy print in a misguided effort to cash in on the buzz.)

Video of the self-destructing work immediately went viral online. When the winning bid came down, an alarm sounded and the painting slid halfway through an automatic shredder that the artist had surreptitiously built into the frame. Many have assumed Sotheby’s was in on the ruse, although the auction house has steadfastly denied any involvement.

Sotheby’s contemporary specialist Alex Branczik wrote in a recent Instagram post:

Let’s end the speculation and crazy conspiracy stories. Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork during our Evening sale last week; he created one. This is the newly titled Love Is In the Bin, 2018. Were we in on it? Absolutely not. Do you really think Banksy, who spent his youth stencilling walls in Bristol and dodging the local authorities, would want to collaborate with the art establishment? Come on, you should all know better that.

Branczik then extended an invitation for the public to see the half-shredded painting in person at Sotheby’s this weekend.

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