Girl With Balloon, also called Balloon Girl or Girl With A Balloon, was first created in London in 2002, and was originally stencilled on the walls under Waterloo Bridge at London’s Southbank. Another version appeared around the same time in Shoreditch, East London, on the walls of a printing shop. Both stencils are now lost, but the image lives on.
To find out more, read our article on London’s Top 12 Banksy Murals
The original stencil at Southbank was accompanied by a quote that read “There Is Always Hope”. Some people interpret Girl With Balloon as a symbol of lost innocence, whilst others believe the girl is setting the balloon free – either way, Banksy is reminding the viewer to hold on to hope, even when it feels out of reach.
Banksy has created variations of Girl With Balloon to address political issues. In 2014, he created a version featuring the girl wearing a headscarf, to support victims of the Syria conflict. Two years later, the artist reworked the design to feature a Union Jack balloon, and offered a free print of it to Bristol locals who voted against the Conservative government.
There are five colour variations for Girl With Balloon, the red balloon is the most iconic but Banksy has also created versions in purple, blue, pink and gold. In March 2021, a signed artist proof with a gold balloon sold for £1,104,000 at Sotheby’s in London – setting a new world record for a Banksy print.
Just seconds after a painting of Girl With Balloon sold at Sotheby’s in London in 2018, the artwork suddenly began to destroy itself through a shredder hidden inside the frame. The winning bidder went through with the purchase anyway, and the work was renamed Love Is In The Bin – the only original artwork ever to be created live at auction.
On 14 October 2021 Love is in the Bin became the most expensive Banksy ever to be sold at auction when it achieved a staggering £18,582,000 at Sotheby’s.
While Love Is In The Bin superseded the value of Girl With Balloon by unprecedented levels, the same cannot be said for any DIY versions done at home.
But one opportunistic collector went ahead and shredded their unsigned Girl With Balloon print in hopes of increasing its value. They took a piece of art worth roughly £40,000 and, in our opinion, made its value £1. They requested MyArtBroker list the print for a minimum of £80,000. We refused for a number of reasons, one of them being we just couldn’t believe the stupidity involved and the opportunistic vandalism.
Ian Syer, MyArtBroker Co-Founder, said: “Banksy is unique to the art world. No other artist captures the hearts and minds of the public like he does. However, when Banksy does something crazy like shredding his own artwork, it will naturally have a dramatic effect on values. What this person today seems to have done is needlessly ruin a print worth around £40k and reduced its value to almost nothing. We strongly recommend nobody else takes valuable art and tries to cash in on what history will judge a simply brilliant stunt. There are limited numbers of Girl With Balloon prints in the world, today, we lost one and it’s a crying shame.”
The Canadian singer Justin Bieber had the girl from Girl With Balloon tattooed onto his arm in 2014 and posted a photo of it on his Instagram. Banksy quickly shared the picture on his Facebook page, commenting simply: “Controversial”. Bieber has since removed the Instagram post, but not the tattoo.
At the moment it’s not possible to buy Girl With Balloon directly from Banksy or his handling service, Pest Control. Therefore, any prints of the work on the secondary market are sought-after by collectors. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a print of Girl With Balloon, it’s important that the work comes with a Pest Control certificate of authenticity to prove it’s a genuine Banksy print.