On Saturday, Joey Syer, co-founder of the London-based online art marketplace MyArtBroker.com, told The Guardian
that the the stunt was legitimate and will only push the artist’s prices higher. As for Girl With Balloon
—which has not been seen since it was whisked away by Sotheby’s art handlers seconds after the destruction occurred—Syer thinks its value can only increase in its current state.
“Given the media attention this stunt has received, the lucky buyer would see a great return,” he told The Guardian, estimating the increased value at at least 50 percent higher, potentially even as much as £2 million or more. “This is now part of art history in its shredded state.”
Stephan Keszler, an art dealer who has sold
more than two dozen large Banksy works over the last few years, disagreed. Keszler argued that the deep-pocketed Banksy collectors he counts as clients are more interested in acquiring the graffiti pieces that first appeared as guerilla tags on buildings, rather than works on canvas such as Girl With Balloon
. He thinks the $1 million price is already an inflated figure—“a very, very, very high price,” as he put it.
“This work should have sold for £200,000—if he hadn’t shredded it no one would be talking about it,” said Keszler, who has sold Banksy art that appeared on buildings for as much as $1.2 million. “Now they’re saying it’s going to be $2 [million] or $3 [million] or $4 million, which is totally crazy.”
Even with the added performative element of the work, Keszler thinks true Banksy collectors aren’t clamoring to buy it.
“It’s such a famous work right now, because it’s unique,” Keszler said. “On the other hand, I think the majority of the clients I have, they would say, ‘We don’t play this game.’ If you buy it for $2 million right now—you look like a fool if you buy a piece shredded coming out of the frame.’”
All said that the work’s shift in value in its shredded form is predicated on the idea that this truly was an independent act, which Sotheby’s knew nothing about. The critic Jerry Saltz was an initial
believer, who wrote
on Sunday that “I’m not a Banksy fan but this made [me] want to dance barefoot with him.” By Tuesday, he had changed his tune: “Good morning Sotheby’s: Did you enjoy doing your little Banksy dance? Con?” he wrote
. Suzanne Gyorgy, the head of Citi Private Bank’s art advisory and finance division, explained
to a wealth management publication that simple due diligence from an advisory firm retained by a potential buyer would have uncovered any irregularities in the frame.
Still, Lazarides thinks that the auction house was unaware of the stunt. He called it “one of the finest pieces of performance art to ever have been pulled off.”
“I worked for him for 12 years,” Lazarides said. “The idea of him colluding with an institution to pull off a stunt is the complete antithesis to his philosophy.”