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  • Press release
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  • London
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  • For immediate release
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  • 1 October 2021

Banksy's Girl with Balloon (Diptych) is Unveiled in London as a Major Highlight of the 20th / 21st Century: Evening Sale Including Thinking Italian, London, 15 October 2021

  • Banksy’s Girl with Balloon (Diptych) is a poignant vision of innocence and hope

  • Unveiled in London on 1 October, the painting will be a major highlight of Christie’s flagship Frieze Week auction

  • The painting is being offered with a pre-sale estimate of £2,500,000-3,500,000

  • Christie’s 20th / 21st Century: Evening Sale Including Thinking Italian, London will incorporate the Hong Kong and New York sale rooms, taking place on 15 October 2021

Banksy, Girl with Balloon (Diptych) (2005, estimate: £2,500,000-3,500,000)

LONDON – Unveiled in London on 1 October, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon (Diptych) (2005, estimate: £2,500,000-3,500,000) will highlight Christie’s 20th / 21st Century: Evening Sale Including Thinking Italian, London on 15 October 2021. A poignant two-part version of what is perhaps Banksy’s most iconic image, Girl with Balloon (Diptych) is a vision of innocence and hope. The work consists of two canvases, each on an intimate 30 x 30 cm scale. In one stands a small girl, stencilled in black against the white background, with her hand upraised; in the other, a red, heart-shaped balloon drifts away into the sky. Created in 2005, one year after the Girl with Balloon motif appeared on London’s South Bank, the diptych heightens the simple pathos of Banksy’s composition: the balloon has escaped from one panel into another, and the space between the two is palpable.  In 2017, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was voted the nation’s favourite artwork.

Katharine Arnold, Co-Head, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe: “Banksy created Girl with Balloon (Diptych) with the intention of reminding us that above all, there is hope. As the balloon escapes the hands of the girl who held it dearly and drifts upwards, we are reminded that our hopes and dreams are universal notions that elevate us. The symbolism is a fitting encapsulation of our collective experience over the last 18 months and we are delighted to offer the painting as a highlight during London’s Frieze Week in our 20th / 21st Century: Evening Sale Including Thinking Italian.

The original mural of Girl with Balloon appeared outside a Shoreditch printing shop in 2002; two years later, another version sprang up on London’s South Bank, this time accompanied by a message reading ‘There Is Always Hope.’ Much like Banksy’s Game Changer (2020), also depicting a small child, the image’s purpose and power lay in its universality. It was not a fixed entity confined to a gallery, but rather an ephemeral, constantly-evolving performance, one that lived among the people, and spoke to them in different ways. In 2005, Banksy produced another variant of the motif on the West Bank barrier wall, this time with a bunch of balloons lifting the girl into the sky. In 2014, a version featuring a child with a headscarf was projected onto Nelson’s Column and other global landmarks in support of crisis victims in Syria.  

Banksy has taken the world as his canvas since the 1990s, using graffiti as a powerful form of social commentary and critique. Beginning in his native Bristol, the anonymous artist moved to London towards the turn of the millennium, where his signature stencilled images became a distinctive part of the urban landscape. Over the years, his projects have taken him across the globe: from Gaza to Glastonbury, and from Los Angeles to the Louvre. Appearing by stealth in unexpected places, his images have addressed a host of social, cultural and political issues, most recently confronting topics such as Brexit, climate change, migration and the COVID-19 pandemic. Fuelling Banksy’s practice is a belief that art should belong to the people, and that, in reflecting their concerns, it has the power to change the world for the better. Girl with Balloon has held a constant role in this mission for almost twenty years.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

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Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

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