Go­ing, gone: did Sotheby’s back Banksy stunt?

Shred­ded print at­tracts queues as opin­ion di­vides on the role of auc­tion­eers

The Observer - - News - Mattha Busby

It may be in tat­ters, but that didn’t stop art lovers queu­ing down the road yes­ter­day to view the Banksy print that shred­ded it­self at auc­tion.

Peo­ple flocked to Sotheby’s to see for them­selves the work that stunned the art world last Fri­day when it de­scended through the ra­zored teeth of a de­vice built into the frame shortly af­ter be­ing sold for £1,042,000. The sten­cil print orig­i­nally known as Girl with Bal­loon and now ti­tled Love Is in the Bin went on dis­play in the gallery in cen­tral Lon­don, where view­ers streamed out of the door on to Re­gent Street as the acid synths of the Chem­i­cal Broth­ers pro­vided the soundtrack for self­ies with the halfde­stroyed mas­ter­piece.

Art lovers were di­vided on whether the auc­tion house had been aware the stunt was com­ing.

“I think Sotheby’s was in on it,” said Stephanie Field­ing, a Cana­dian mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive. “One would hope in an age of se­cu­rity con­scious­ness they would have known that such a con­trap­tion was in­side the art­work.”

Oth­ers were more re­luc­tant to sug­gest that Banksy and the auc­tion­eers had con­spired to­gether. “I don’t think Sotheby’s knew,” said Mat­teo Per­azzo, an Ital­ian pho­tog­ra­pher. “Banksy is op­posed to the art es­tab­lish­ment, so it would be weird if he had col­luded with them.”

The buyer, re­port­edly a fe­male Eu­ro­pean col­lec­tor, still wants the work, which she con­sid­ers “my own piece of art his­tory”.

Sotheby’s stressed that it had “no prior knowl­edge of this event and were not in any way in­volved”, while its Eu­ro­pean head of con­tem­po­rary art said ear­lier this week: “I took it for what it was – a coup on the art world.”

“When we asked the artist’s stu­dio about re­mov­ing the work from its frame dur­ing the cat­a­logu­ing process, we were ex­pressly told not to,” a spokesper­son said.

“We were told that the frame, which was glued, was in­te­gral to the work; that break­ing it would dam­age the work, and neg­a­tively im­pact its artis­tic value.”

Banksy did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment but his me­dia spokesper­son asked whether the ex­hi­bi­tion was busy.

Pho­to­graph by Henry Ni­cholls/ Reuters

Banksy’s shred­ded print is re­hung.

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