The winning bidder of a Banksy painting that self-destructed at an auction last week has said he will nonetheless go ahead with the purchase. Experts say the shredded painting could be worth more than the original.
The anonymous buyer of a Banksy painting that was partially shredded at a Sotheby's auction last week has agreed to proceed with her payment of 1.04 million pounds ($1.4 million, €1.2 million) despite damage to the artwork.
The moment the hammer came down for Banksy's "Girl With Balloon" painting at the London auction house last week the bottom half of the artwork was sucked into a shredder concealed in the frame, to the astonishment of those in the saleroom.
The auctioneers on Thursday quoted the winning bidder as saying she was initially shocked when the work was shredded but later realized she would end up with her own piece of art history. The buyer has only been identified as a female European collector and long-standing client of Sotheby's.
Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art for Europe at Sotheby's, said the shredded painting was "the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction."
The auction house also said the artwork had been retitled "Love is in the Bin" and was authenticated by Banksy's agency.
Shredded artwork 'doubles' in value: experts
In the wake of Banksy's prank, several experts suggested that the shredded artwork could now be worth more than double its original price.
"Banksy might think that by destroying his art he's undermining capitalists who buy it, but he's wrong," said Mikael Faujour of the specialist French art magazine Artension. "The leftovers from this destruction will acquire a new prestige and additional monetary worth."
Thierry Ehrmann, who heads Artprice, a firm closely monitoring art market prices, claimed it could now be worth more than €2 million. "Banksy reminds people that, even in a prominent auction, all his art is fleeting," he said.
Some experts have even questioned whether Sotheby's conspired with the artist to pull off the prank. Auctions houses usually study both the painting and the frame with careful attention prior to sale, they say.
From spray painter to political artist
Banksy, who has never disclosed his full identity, has grown from a small-time graffiti artist in the English city of Bristol to become one the world's best-known artists. His works often have ironic political themes. In 2005, he painted a young girl frisking a soldier on the Palestinian side of Israel's barrier to the West Bank. At a Disneyland amusement park the following year he installed life-size figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.
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While the Israeli barrier to the West Bank is full of different graffiti, none are as well known as Banksy's 2005 work
The mysterious artist posted a video of the shredding on his Instagram account, prompting speculation that he may have personally attended the auction. The video was accompanied by a Pablo Picasso quote — "the urge to destroy is also a creative urge."
"Balloon Girl," which depicts a small child reach towards a heart-shaped balloon, was originally stenciled on a wall in east London.
dm/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)