Lot 67
  • 67

BANKSY | Girl with Balloon

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Banksy
  • Girl with Balloon
  • signed and dedicated on the reverse
  • spray paint and acrylic on canvas, mounted on board, in artist's frame
  • 101 by 78 by 18 cm. 39 3/4 by 30 3/4 by 7 in.
  • Executed in 2006, this work is unique.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2006


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate although the frame tonality is slightly warmer in the original. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big businesses. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.” Banksy cited in: Paul Gough, Banksy: The Bristol Legacy, Bristol 2010, p. 9.

With its striking simplicity and raw immediacy, Girl with Balloon, 2006, is one of the most widely recognisable images by the anonymous and world renowned artist Banksy. Unlike the other editioned iterations of this famous motif, the present work is a rare unique painting that was given to the present owner by Banksy in 2006 following the artist’s warehouse show, Barely Legal, in Los Angeles. Beating Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire, Constable’s The Hay Wain and Hockney’s A Bigger Splash to the top spot, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was voted the nation’s favourite artwork in a 2017 poll; a resounding affirmation of the broad and wide reaching popularity of this undeniably iconic and culturally formidable image.

Born in Bristol and based in England, Banksy has garnered international acclaim for his distinctive style of satirical street art and graffiti, executed using a technique of stencilling. His work is rich in dark humour and frequently captioned with subversive epigrams that provide poignant and potent commentaries on the social and political aspects of contemporary society. Girl with Balloon depicts a small child rendered in black and white who reaches out towards a bright red, heart shaped balloon dangling from a string. Like much of Banksy’s work, the image is an ambiguous one, leaving the viewer to decipher whether the girl is reaching out to catch the balloon – a vibrant emblem of childhood delight – or rather has let it slip from her fingers and is watching in anguish as it drifts into oblivion, a metaphor, perhaps, for the inevitable loss of childhood and innocence. Composed in spray paint and acrylic on canvas, the motif is based on an original graffiti mural first painted outside a Shoreditch shop in 2002 and then on London’s Southbank that same year, this time accompanied by the epitaph ‘There is Always Hope’. Bordered by an ornate gilded frame, an integral element of the artwork chosen by Banksy himself, the present work is a kitschy emblem of pathos. Instantly gettable, Banksy’s graffiti image is a perfect encapsulation of human emotion for the short-attention span of our social media age: it seditiously pokes fun at high-minded art world savoir faire and in doing so appeals to many, for whom it represents a contemporary expression of sanctity, a bright and vivid symbol of hope everlasting. Ultimately, however, Girl with Balloon is the poster-child of Banksy’s art: whether you are for or against him, this image utterly encapsulates the immediacy and controversy surrounding the artist’s mission.

Authenticated by Pest Control.