Banksy’s disappearing artwork

Banksy’s disappearing artwork: How paintings by the secretive artist have been covered up, knocked down and stolen in the past

  • Banksy’s Girl With Balloon self-destructed after being sold at Sotheby’s on Friday
  • The gavel had landed for a cool £1,042,000 when the artwork shredded itself
  • But what about the other Banksy artworks that have been lost through the years?

Girl With Balloon may have self-destructed at Sotheby’s stunning the art world, but many other Banksy’s have been lost in far less mysterious circumstances through the years.

From councils painting over stencils to buildings being razed, the Bristol artist has caused numerous games of cat and mouse between those who see his work as art, those who see it as a blight, and even those who spot a chance to make some cash. 

Street Art miners, The Sincura Group who were responsible for the removal and export of ‘Slave Labour’ depicting a child making union flag bunting and regarded as a critical social commentary on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, was mysteriously taken from Wood Green, London.

Street Art miners, The Sincura Group who were responsible for the removal and export of ‘Slave Labour’ depicting a child making union flag bunting and regarded as a critical social commentary on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, was mysteriously taken from east London

Parachuting Rat was a series of artworks in Melbourne, Australia, created by the Bristol artist.

On 26 April 2010, one was painted over by council contractors, leading to local and international debate on street art and its preservation.

Another was accidentally destroyed in May 2012 by building work, leaving just one version of the work in Australia remaining.   

The Girl With Balloon, which was signed and acquired from Banksy by a mystery buyer in 2006, was the final piece auctioned in a contemporary art sale on Friday night.

On 26 April 2010, one was painted over by council contractors, leading to local and international debate on street art and its preservation. Another was accidentally destroyed in May 2012 by building work, leaving just one version of the work in Australia remaining

In April 2009, One Nation Under CCTV, an April 2008 mural, painted over after London’s Westminster City Council had stated in October 2008 that it would remove any graffiti, regardless of the reputation of its creator

In April 2009, One Nation Under CCTV, an April 2008 mural, painted over after London’s Westminster City Council had stated in October 2008 that it would remove any graffiti, regardless of the reputation of its creator, adding that Banksy ‘has no more right to paint graffiti than a child.’

The Mild Mild West, featuring a teddy bear throwing a Molotov cocktail containing a bunch of flowers at police, located on the side of a building in Bristol, was twice defaced with paint during 2009. 

It was cleaned up both times, but was damaged in the process; the paint used to attack it is still visible.

Girl With Balloon is one of Banksy’s most recognised murals, and the original appeared on a shop wall in east London, depicting a girl reaching towards a heart-shaped balloon. 

But as the gavel fell for the final time in New York last night, the artwork began to self-destruct, stunning the art world. 

It is not known who the successful bidder is but Sotheby’s said they are talking to them and that they were ‘surprised’ by the bizarre stunt.

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe said: ‘It appears we just got Banksy-ed.

 ‘We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprised by the story. 

The Mild Mild West, featuring a teddy bear throwing a Molotov cocktail containing a bunch of flowers at police, located on the side of a building in Bristol, was twice defaced with paint during 2009

‘We are in discussion about next steps.’ 

Sotheby’s described the work ahead of the sale as ‘authenticated by Pest Control’, the handling services organisation that acts on Banksy’s behalf. It was signed and dedicated on the reverse and had been acquired by the vendor directly from the artist in 2006, the auction house said.    

However, there is speculation that the shredded art could be fake. It is not known who bought the work from Banksy in 2006 and whether or not they were in on the stunt.

Girl With Balloon: Banksy’s iconic artwork

Girl With Balloon is one of graffiti artist Banksy’s most famous murals. 

The imagery was first spotted on the wall of a shop in 2002, in Great Eastern Street, east London. 

It features just two simple shapes, with the statement: ‘There is always hope’.   

The girl depicts a Syrian refugee, an imagery which Banksy uses many times in his murals.

The iconic mural was last year voted the nation’s favourite artwork.

The image was chosen above the likes of Constable’s Hay Wain and Jack Vettriano’s Singing Butler.

Featuring on the shop wall for more than 12 years. it was also set to be  removed and sold in 2014.

Events company Sincura Group, which controversially removed another Banksy mural in Tottenham, said would exhibited the work before selling it for about £500,000.

A man who works in the printing shop said in he had not seen the Banksy mural for years because it was been covered with boards.

In March 2015, the third anniversary of the Syria conflict, Banksy reworked the painting to depict a Syrian refugee and added #WithSyria. 

The image was later projected on the Eiffel Tower and Nelson’s column in Paris.

Justin Bieber famously got the image tattooed on his arm, which was blasted by Banksy himself. 

A Facebook page which is thought to represent the mysterious Banksy posted a photo of the ink with the caption: ‘controversial.’

A version of the artwork painted onto the cardboard backing of an Ikea frame sold for £73,250 in 2012.

 

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