Painting famously shredded by the artist in Sotheby’s London auction room in 2018 to be offered in contemporary art evening auction on October 14 with an estimate of £4-6 million.
Banksy’s Love is in the Bin will return to Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries this October, almost three years to the date since the artwork was shredded in this very location on 5 October 2018.
Passing through a hidden shredder just seconds after the hammer fell, the “nation’s favourite artwork” Girl with Balloon seemingly auto-destructed while hanging on the wall in Sotheby’s packed auction room. Capturing the world by surprise, this unexpected piece of performance art became instant art history, making it the first time a new work had been created in the course of an auction.
“Some people think it didn’t really shred. It did. Some people think the auction house was in on it, they weren’t.”Banksy on Instagram, 2018
In the days that followed, the shredded artwork was granted a new certificate and date by Pest Control, Banksy’s authentication body, and given the new title, Love is in the Bin. The collector who had placed the record £1 million winning bid on Girl with Balloon decided to keep the new work.
Looking back on the event, she explains: “That surreal evening three years ago, I became the accidental – but very privileged – owner of Love is in the Bin. It has been an incredible journey to have been part of the story of how one of the most famous artworks in the world came to be, but now it is time to let the painting go.”
“Love is in the Bin was born of the most spectacular artistic happening of the 21st century. When Girl with Balloon ‘self-destructed’ in our saleroom, Banksy sparked a global sensation that has since become a cultural phenomenon. During that memorable night, Banksy did not so much destroy an artwork by shredding it but instead created one. Today this piece is considered the heir to a venerated legacy of anti-establishment art that began with DADA and Marcel Duchamp more than a century ago. Notorious, daring, and culturally ubiquitous, Love is in the Bin is the ultimate Banksy artwork and a true icon of recent art history.” – Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s Chairman, Modern & Contemporary Art
Love is in the Bin went on public exhibition from Saturday 4 September, at noon, following a special two-day preview in London, before embarking on a global tour to Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, and back to New Bond Street once more. The exhibition will be followed by an auction on the evening of October 14, in which the painting is estimated to sell for between £4-6 million ($5.5-8.2 million).
Hailed as “Banksy’s greatest work” by The Guardian and predicted by the BBC as a painting “that will come to be seen as one of the most significant artworks of the early 21st Century”, Love is in the Bin sparked over 30,000 global news stories and swiftly became a cultural phenomenon.
Recognised all over the world, the viral image spawned multiple memes and became the subject for political cartoonists, while brands including McDonald’s, Perrier, and IKEA appropriated Banksy’s painting for their own advertisements, products, and logos – the latter of which posted a how-to shred-it-yourself guide on the company’s Instagram.
When Banksy himself confirmed the news on his Instagram account, his following grew by one million people overnight. 1,000 people came to visit Sotheby’s exhibition of the work in a single day.
Love is in the Bin firmly fits into the long history of anti-art, from Marcel Duchamp’s anonymous submission of Fountain, a porcelain urinal remounted on a pedestal in 1917; to Robert Rauschenberg who erased a pencil drawing by Willem de Kooning and re-titled the work, Erased de Kooning Drawing; to Ai Wei Wei who destroyed an alleged Han Dynasty urn, photographing himself intentionally dropping it to probe the wider question of what we see as valuable.
In 2018, Sotheby’s joined a long and distinguished list of art establishments that have been subject to Banksy’s artistic hand. Earlier events include the installation of an idyllic pastoral oil painting featuring a crime scene demarcated with police incident tape on the wall of Tate Britain in 2003; a yellow smiley-emoticon-faced Mona Lisa which appeared on a wall at the Louvre in 2004; and a fake cave painting, depicting a stick figure pushing a shopping trolley, which spent three unauthorised days on display at the British Museum in 2005.
The following year, a life-size inflatable Guantanamo Bay prisoner dressed in an orange jumpsuit appeared in Disneyland, ahead of the artist’s debut and breakthrough US exhibition in Los Angeles.
Banksy is no stranger to Sotheby’s New Bond Street, some fourteen years earlier, in 2004, Banksy secretly stenciled a gangsta rat on the gallery wall during the exhibition preview of Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy sale.
*During Sotheby’s auction, Girl with Balloon (as the painting was then known) sold for £1 million / $1.4 million (est. £200,000-300,000), an auction record for the artist at the time.