Assistants pose by an artwork titled ‘Love is the Bin’ by British street artist Banksy during a photocall at Sotheby’s auction house in central London.—AFP

A canvas by British artist Banksy, which was partially shredded moments after selling at auction in 2018, will go back under the hammer next month, Sotheby's said on Friday. The artwork-now called "Love is in the Bin"-will be offered for sale by the London auction house on October 14, with an estimated selling price of £4-6 million ($6-8 million, 5-7 million euros). The painting, originally entitled "Girl with Balloon", sold for nearly £1.1 million at the same location in October 2018 and is now being resold by the unnamed collector who purchased it.

The canvas unexpectedly passed through a shredder hidden in the large Victorian-style frame moments after bidding ended, partially destroying it and stunning the art world. The prank was orchestrated by the elusive and irreverent Banksy, whose identity is said to be known to only a handful of friends. "That surreal evening three years ago, I became the accidental-but very privileged-owner of 'Love is in the Bin'," the collector said in a statement released by Sotheby's. "It has been an incredible journey to have been part of the story of how one of the most famous artworks in the world came to be, but now it is time to let the painting go."

The part-shredded canvas, which was exhibited for a month at a museum in Germany in 2019, depicts a small child reaching up toward a heart-shaped red balloon. It was originally stencilled on a wall in east London and has been endlessly reproduced, becoming one of Banksy's best-known images. The painting will go on public display at Sotheby's in London for two days from Saturday, before embarking on a global tour to Hong Kong, Taipei and New York ahead of returning to the British capital.

Alex Branczik, Sotheby's contemporary art chairman, said Banksy's stunt at its last sale "did not so much destroy an artwork by shredding it, but instead created one". "Today this piece is considered heir to a venerated legacy of anti-establishment art," he added, calling it "the ultimate Banksy artwork and a true icon of recent art history".

The shredding was the latest in a long history of unpredictable moves by the street artist, who rose to fame for his stencilled graffiti pieces, often highly satirical, on buildings in Britain and worldwide. His latest works have appeared recently in several British seaside towns. Meanwhile in March, a work honoring caregivers during the pandemic fetched a record £14.4 million at auction, which was donated to the National Health Service. - AFP