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In a twist befitting its dramatic history, Banksy’s famed self-destructing artwork has undergone yet another transformation. Originally titled ‘Girl with Balloon,’ the piece has now been renamed ‘Girl Without Balloon,’ marking its second title change since the 2018 auction.

The artwork grabbed headlines in October 2018 when, immediately after being auctioned at Sotheby’s London, it partially shredded itself, thanks to a mechanism hidden in its frame. This unexpected event led Pest Control, Banksy’s studio, to rename the piece from ‘Girl with Balloon’ (2006) to ‘Love is in the Bin’ and update its creation date to 2018. After a week of discussions, Sotheby’s issued a new certificate of authenticity, and the original bidder agreed to acquire the now-historic piece for £1.04 million ($1 million), plus fees.

The piece resurfaced at Sotheby’s London in October 2021, fetching a record £16 million (£18.5 million or $25.3 million with fees). Following this sale, the artwork was rechristened ‘Girl Without Balloon’, and the date was altered to 2021. It is currently unclear if this latest change has been accompanied by a new certificate of authentication.

Nick Buckley Wood, the director of private sales at Sotheby’s in Asia, reflected on the significance of these changes, noting, “There was physically only one work. But the change in title implies that the work changed status in the mind of the artist.” This observation underscores the evolving nature of Banksy’s creation, as it transitions not just in form but also in conceptual identity.

Banksy’s artwork continues to challenge and redefine the boundaries of art, both through its physical transformations and its shifts in naming. These changes, while perplexing to some, add layers of intrigue and meaning, ensuring the piece remains a significant talking point in contemporary art circles. As the artwork moves through its various phases, it not only reflects the dynamic nature of art but also the ever-changing perceptions and interpretations it evokes.


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