How much would you be willing to pay for a half-shredded piece of art? Several million pounds if you are an art collector. Nine art collectors entered into a 10-minute bidding war and the winner finally paid 18.5 million pounds at the Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London on Thursday evening.
The work in question: Banksy's infamous 'Love is in the Bin' -- the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction. 'Love is in the Bin' tripled its 6 million pounds estimate in the very same Sotheby's saleroom in which it was born in 2018.
Back in 2018, it was an iconic Banksy moment. The "Girl With Balloon" piece was sold at an auction for 1 million pounds, but the work of art 'self-destructed' the moment the hammer came down. The piece unexpectedly lowered itself through a shredder that had been built into the bottom of the frame unknown to anyone involved in the sale, according to Sotheby's. The bottom half of the painting was cut into strips in what BBC referred to as "one of the most significant artworks of the early 21st Century".
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The work, which since then has been renamed 'Love is in the Bin', sparked over 30,000 global news stories and swiftly became a cultural phenomenon.
'Love is in the Bin' firmly fits into the long history of anti-art -- from French artist Marcel Duchamp's anonymous submission of 'Fountain', a porcelain urinal remounted on a pedestal in 1917; to American artist Robert Rauschenberg who erased a pencil drawing by Willem de Kooning and re-titled the work 'Erased de Kooning Drawing'; to contemporary Chinese artist 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.
Banksy, a British artist whose often-political street art helped turn him into one of the most well-known artists of our time, has never revealed his identity to the public.
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