The infamous scene that unfolded last October has gone down in art history as a classic piece of Banksy performance art. Hammering down as the last lot for the night, Girl With Balloon made headlines when it began to self-destruct, slipping down in its frame, stunning onlookers as it emerged from the bottom in shreds. The London auction house staff were left baffled as the work had sold for US$1.4 million only seconds before. This was just another stunt (or statement) from the illusive British street artist whose identity has never been revealed. He often teams his powerful imagery with dark humour and satire and this time was no different as Banksy posted, ‘Going, going, gone’ on his social media shortly after the stunt. The media frenzy that followed naturally elevated the artist’s already high profile and market value for his works. ‘Without a doubt this work is now more valuable’, Sotheby’s said after the auction. The winning bidderlater agreed to go ahead with the sale at the same price but with the new title, Love is Dead, after realising she had purchased ‘a piece of history’. Steve Lazarides, who once represented the street artist, has claimed it was ‘one of the finest pieces of performance art to have ever been pulled off’.
Although it was later confirmed that the whole work was meant to be destroyed, but thanks to a mechanical failure, it was saved. Rather than destroying an artwork, Banksy ironically re-created one in the most dramatic way possible. Two screen-print works, Barcode andLove Is In The Air by Banksy will be offered in our
Prints & Multiples Auction on 10 April.
Lucy Foster / Art Specialist