Banksy’s latest act of artistic rebellion has not only destroyed his own work but duped both buyers and one of art auctioning’s biggest names.
The mysterious artist seems to have destroyed one of his own pieces, but only after the piece was sold for $1.4 million by Sothebys. Banksy’s iconic Girl With Balloon went on the auction block but a shredder was hidden in the painting’s frame. The painting features graffiti art of a girl reaching out at a heart-shaped balloon in the British graffiti artist’s classic template style.
The action featured the work in an “artist’s frame” and the auction went out without a hitch. Once the auction was complete and the gavel banged, however, the painting shredded to ribbons out the bottom of the frame.
Sotheby’s said in a statement the piece up and “self-destructed” after the sale was completed.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Senior Director and Head of Contemporary Art, Europe London. The unexpected incident became instant art world history and certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer.
Banksy posted an image or the shredding late Friday night with the cheeky caption “Going, going, gone…” as onlookers appear stunned by the stunt.
Banksy has long decried people moving his street art and selling is, but this appears to be a prank he pulled by being directly involved with the auction. In another Instagram video he posted on Saturday, he explained that he installed the shredder in case the painting ever went up for auction.
The video shows the shredder being put into the frame and also what’s left of the now-half shredded painting, its ribbons hanging out the bottom of the frame while Sotheby’s officials moved the frame and took it out of the auction hall. The video has a Picasso quote about creation and destruction, which is fitting. The painting may no longer be whole, but it certainly is one of the more interesting pieces he’s made.