After a painting by the elusive artist Banksy shredded itself when sold on auction last week, art experts believe it has now doubled in value from the £1.4 million sale price. This has caused a number of experts to believe that Sotheby’s was “in” on the stunt that saw half the painting hanging in tatters below the frame. They find it strange the shredder passed the auction house’s security measures. The artist released a video on Instagram, showing how he had built the shredder into the frame.

Both Sotheby’s and the artist Banksy himself have denied any collusion in the daring stunt, which has seen the painting, originally titled “Girl with Balloon” receiving the new moniker “Love is in the Bin.”

‘Love is in the Bin’ on display at Sotheby’s

The queue of art lovers went out the door of Sotheby’s London gallery on Saturday waiting to view the shredded artwork, with many believing the auction house knew the stunt was going to happen.

Critics pointed out that immediately after “Girl with Balloon” passed through the shredder, art technicians immediately removed the painting from the wall, carrying it out of view. Now the painting hangs with its new name “Love is in the Bin” on the gallery wall.

Collusion between Banksy and Sotheby’s?

As noted by the Bristol Post, both Sotheby’s and the artist deny any collusion in the clever art stunt on Friday, 5 October, which has doubled the worth of the painting.

A spokesperson, speaking for the artist himself, said they categorically deny there was collusion between Banksy and Sotheby’s in “any shape or form.”

The unnamed spokesperson pointed out that 27 people were bidding for “Girl with Balloon” that night, saying Sotheby’s would not encourage valued clients to offer bids on a piece of art they knew would destroy itself.

The spokesperson said Sotheby’s credibility would be lost over the stunt. They went on to say the artist was also surprised the painting, with its very deep frame, had passed security systems at the auction house.

Sotheyby's denies they colluded with Banksy

On Sotheby’s side, The Guardian quotes a statement where the auction house denied any prior knowledge of the stunt, stressing that they were not involved in any way.

The auction house’s European head of contemporary art made a statement earlier last week to say he took Banksy’s stunt as a coup against the art world.

The Guardian also quotes another spokesperson for Sotheby’s as saying when they asked the artist’s studio if they could remove the painting from the frame for the cataloguing process, they were explicitly told not to do so, saying the artwork was glued to the frame and that should they remove it, it would damage the painting, decreasing its artistic value.

The report also quotes Canadian marketing executive Stephanie Fielding as saying she believes the auction house was in on the stunt. She went on to say that in an era where there is so much security consciousness, the auction house must have known the shredder was inside the artwork.

Incidentally, Sotheby's tweeted that the buyer, a female European client of long-standing, was proceeding with the sale, despite the work being shredded.

The Guardian asked employees at Sotheby’s on Saturday if the auction house had colluded with the anti-establishment artist. They wouldn’t comment, with one person saying they had no idea, while the receptionist said they didn’t think the auction house knew, adding they are not allowed to say anything more.

As reported recently here, Banksy is an anonymous artist who creates satirical and often thought-provoking street art. Most are totally anti-establishment, so it would be strange if he colluded with an art house to double the value of his work.