Banksy's partly self-destructed "Balloon Girl" takes off for 21.8 million euros

The identity of the purchaser has not been disclosed. Renamed “Love is in the Bin” (“Love is in the Bin”), the work sold at Sotheby’s, in the British capital, thus far exceeds the previous record set by a Banksy.

Last March, “Game Changer”, a canvas honoring caregivers during the coronavirus pandemic, was sold for 16.75 million pounds (19.5 million euros) for the benefit of the public service of British health.

Very soon after the start of the sale, “a moment that we are all waiting,” said auctioneer Oliver Barber, the bids swirled until they pulverized the price of 1.042 million pounds (1.185 million euros) at which the painting had been sold to a European collector in 2018.

Prior to Thursday’s sale, Sotheby’s estimated the work to be between £ 4 million and £ 6 million (between € 4.6 and 7 million).

Its last appearance at an auction in October 2018 had caused amazement around the world.

No sooner had the hammer struck than a crusher hidden in the frame had torn to shreds the lower half of the canvas, which depicts a little girl releasing a red heart-shaped balloon, leaving only the balloon intact. White background.

It was “one of the most ingenious moments of artistic performance of this century”, which had “made this auction in history”, underlined Alex Branczik, head of modern art and contemporary at Sotheby’s Asia, in a press release Thursday evening.

With this resounding action, which had caused a real earthquake in the art world, the street artist had the ambition to denounce the “commodification” of art.

But since this coup, Banksy has panicked auctions, where his works are reaching records.

Even before this global notoriety, “La Fille au Ballon”, which appeared for the very first time in 2002 as a stenciled graffiti on a wall on the south bank of London, had already been designated as the favorite work of art. of the British.

On Friday, a diptych version of “La Fille au Ballon” will be auctioned, also in the British capital, this time at Christie’s.

Produced in 2005, the canvas in two parts is estimated between 2.5 and 3.5 million pounds sterling (between 2.9 and 4.1 million euros).

The artist, who became known through a series of graffiti appearing on buildings, maintains the mystery of his identity.

In 2005, he painted the graffiti “The Flower Thrower” on a wall in Jerusalem, depicting a masked protester about to throw a bouquet of flowers. In October 2013, he made the streets of New York his playground by drawing almost one work a day for a month, his fans becoming treasure hunters on his heels.

The artist also uses his graffiti bomb to show his opposition to Brexit, his support for migrants, or to warn about the climate emergency.

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