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Banksy says 'Balloon Girl' stunt went wrong

October 18, 2018

The renowned street artist Banksy has released a video suggesting that the shredding of "Balloon Girl" didn't go as planned. The canvas wasn't totally cut into strips — and the artwork's value likely went up.

Banksy artwork 'Girl with Balloon' shredded through the bottom of the frame as it was sold
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/A. Pezzali

Banksy posted a video on Wednesday indicating that the shredding of his "Balloon Girl" or "Girl With Balloon" picture — at the very moment it was auctioned — had gone wrong.

Speculation about the artist's motives has been rife since the painting was partially shredded by a device inside the frame as the hammer went down, astonishing the audience at Sotheby's auction house in London.

The winning bid had been for 1,042,000 pounds ($1.38 million, €1.19 million). The 2006 piece was subsequently renamed "Love is in the Bin" and was certified by Banksy's Pest Control company, which keeps his identity secret.

Soon after the auction, Banksy had posted a video that showed how he secretly built a shredder into the large gilt frame surrounding the picture.

'In rehearsals, it worked every time'

The latest footage published by Banksy shows a rehearsal of the stunt that ended with the artwork being completely sliced up.

"In rehearsals it worked every time..." explained a caption in the new video, titled "Shredding the Girl and Balloon — The Director's Cut."

Read more: Banksy's hotel with 'the world's worst view' opens in Bethlehem

The Bristol-based artist is known best for ironic outdoor graffiti, often with a political theme.

There was speculation about how Banksy had carried out the stunt, and whether it was shredded as a protest against the work being auctioned.

Read more: 'The Art of Banksy': a commercial exhibition

The auction house said the buyer, who was identified only as "a female European collector and a long-standing client," decided to continue with the purchase at the original price.

And, far from losing value, many art experts said they believed it would fetch a higher price after the shredding than before.

"Banksy didn't destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one," said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's Head of Contemporary Art, Europe.

rc/sms (dpa, AP)

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