A famous painting of the elusive street-artist Banksy shredded itself only moments after it was sold at an auction for more than a whopping £1 million. Yes, a move many are describing as the ‘most audacious pranks in art history’.
The surprising incident took place at London’s noted auction houses, Sotheby’s, where a stencil spray painting of Banksy’s most iconic images ‘Girl With Red Balloon’ was up for sale. But moments after the final hammer went down, a shredder installed within the frame cut the print into narrow strips. The move left everyone in the room in a frenzy — some were shocked, others couldn’t stop applauding the artist for his brilliance.
The 2006 artwork, which shows a girl reaching towards a heart-shaped balloon sold for £1.042m on Friday night, the BBC reported.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe, as quoted by The Telegraph.
$1,300,000 BANKSY artwork piece just “self-destructed” right after it was sold at Sotheby’s auction!🤯😳
(An alarm sound went off and the frame began to shred the art piece.)🚨 pic.twitter.com/TAsrE9ptIh
— Dan Fleyshman (@DanFleyshman) October 6, 2018
— Vanessa N. Hernandez (@VanessaVonZed) October 6, 2018
Commenting about the prank, on his Instagram account, the famous rebel artist, known for his sarcastic graffiti pieces, wrote, “Going, going, gone…”
Online, people couldn’t love the prank any more, with many calling it the most Banksy-like move who doesn’t like selling his artworks. However, many speculated this would actually increase the value of the painting.
The shredded pieces are quite wide. It will be fixed, reframed, and then be worth even more due to the notoriety. He’s no fool. Spontaneous combustion would’ve been a real statement. This is fun though. https://t.co/AdSBBlw3uZ
— Katy Brand (@KatyFBrand) October 6, 2018
Whoever spent a million on that has every right to feel miffed at Sotheby’s and it would be an interesting legal case if they now refused to pay.
— 🏗️ (@DuncanStott) October 6, 2018
Banksy is truly an artist.
This picture alone would make a nice painting. https://t.co/LsLAsLFFTc
— Keyser (@CryptoSoZ) October 6, 2018
This guy is a legend lol https://t.co/JAV05rABw8
— Terry Flaps (@Jac00bbb) October 6, 2018
I don’t agree with the ‘cool crowd’ who think that Banksy’s a sellout and not representative of the graf scene.
On the contrary he keeps the anti-establishment ethos going. He didn’t plan to be worth millions. Blame the arty-farty poseurs for that.
This is genius however. https://t.co/9upXy7ZBDF
— Repo136 (@ageingbboys) October 6, 2018
— Yvonne H (@yvonnehaugen) October 6, 2018
Kudos to Banksy for the best troll ever in the history of the world.
— 🐺 ₩ØⱠ₣ ₲łⱤⱠ 🐺 (@WGrrrl) October 6, 2018
I bet it went up in value – curious to see what happens
— Brett Richey (@BrettRichey) October 6, 2018
PR Stunt of the Day:
Banksy artwork shreds itself after £1m sale at Sotheby’s. pic.twitter.com/oGvdT5rpQz
— Andrew Bloch (@AndrewBloch) October 6, 2018
— Victoria G. ☉ (@Vicks2907) October 6, 2018
You may buy and sell my art, but you can never truly own me. https://t.co/ebJR3YzdXu
— Doctor Death (@doctordeath) October 6, 2018
Now worth 2 million https://t.co/i2PyWGD70h
— It’s a fauda (@itsafauda) October 6, 2018
You’re telling me that Sotheby’s didn’t know Bansky’s frame contained a battery-operated shredder and presumably a radio transmitter? GTFOH. Plus the half-shredded painting will be hanging on some rich twat’s wall as an ironic trophy. Great “prank” 🤨 #Banksy
— What Went Wrong With (@WhatWentWrongW) October 6, 2018
NAH i need a bansky movie RIGHT NOW! The face of the guy on the phone omg watching his commission get shredded 😭😂 https://t.co/hhbaA861kD
— Pettisha (@FaithSoberss) October 6, 2018
😂 I wonder what will happen when the ‘new’ resulting artwork sells for twice as much…. will it burst into flames? https://t.co/2qRN4RrKGv
— Gina O’Kelly (@ginaokelly) October 6, 2018
“first time in auction history that a work of art shredded itself.”
Can you do this with Supreme Court nominees? Presidents? https://t.co/RhVywHiliz
— the cat lady (@SoSaysKat) October 6, 2018
Immediately after the gavel drops and this Banksy is sold for ~$1 million, a remotely activated shredder concealed inside the frame reduces the artwork into to ribbons. Absolutely brilliant. https://t.co/lpRcSzoISi
— Evan Booth @ derby 🏇 (@evanbooth) October 6, 2018
— Alex Sumner 💎 (@alexsumner) October 6, 2018
My god i camt imagine the face of the auctioneer sheer horror that https://t.co/K76hsu37DF
— Cauls 🇯🇲 (@IamCauls) October 6, 2018
“It was not clear whether the artist had attended the auction in person to deliver the coup de grâce to his work,” the Financial Times reported. “We have not experienced this situation in the past . . . where a painting spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a [near-]record for the artist. We are busily figuring out what this means in an auction context,” Branczik told FT.
Sotheby’s in a statement said: “We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprised by the story. We are in discussion about next steps.”