Banksy’s newest bit of artistic rebellion came to fruition on Friday night, when a framed painting of one of his signature designs was sold at auction. Once the gavel hit the hardwood, however, the piece was partially shredded with a device hidden in the painting’s frame. The piece, which sold for more than $1 million, now hangs halfway out of its frame in ribbons, with the girl partially obscured by the frame that destroyed the work in the first place.
The British graffiti artist posted a video on Saturday that revealed he, indeed, did play a prank on the auction house on Friday, intentionally setting the frame up to shred the work if it were ever auctioned off. This is Banksy’s deal: He doesn’t like his works being monetized and has avoided charging people to view his works, many of which pop up in public places.
Some in the art world will literally move cinder blocks and other structures he’s created on to put them in galleries or private collections. Those who stumble upon his works in their neighborhood will cover them up and charge a cover to take a peek. And knockoff artists will try to turn a quick buck. He’s feigned helplessness about such things in the past, but this stunt was a clearly planned and carefully orchestrated by the artist himself.
The problem is that according to some art experts his act of destruction may actually make the piece more valuable. According to The Guardian, the gallery ‘Girl with Balloon’ is now “part of art history” and has exploded in value according to one broker’s estimate.
The website MyArtBroker.com, which resells Banksy pieces, said Girl with Balloon had enjoyed annual increases in value of about 20% in recent years. “Prices now are regularly exceeding £115,000 for signed authenticated prints,” said its co-founder Joey Syer.
“The auction result will only propel this further and given the media attention this stunt has received, the lucky buyer would see a great return on the £1.02m they paid last night.
“This is now part of art history in its shredded state and we’d estimate Banksy has added at a minimum 50% to its value, possibly as high as being worth £2m plus.”
So Banksy’s lesson in destroying art isn’t exactly going to have the impact on the art world that he perhaps hoped. It’s also certainly not the first time an artist has tried to destroy his own art to make a point about popularity and capitalism in the industry.
Banksy’s commentary here is very reminiscent of comedian and writer Demi Adejuyigbe’s old bit about having Banksy as a roommate, which he ran on Twitter years ago.