History holds many legendary tales of artists playing pranks on their wealthy, typically oblivious customers. The graffiti artist Banksy joined that club recently at the auction for one of his Girl with Balloon paintings in Sotheby’s, London.
After the hammer was hit and the auction concluded for $1.1 million, the painting entered the final stage of its artistic journey where a shredder that had been built into the frame reduced it Banksy’s art piece into paper streamers as everyone in the gallery looked on in shock.
The head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, Alex Brancizk, explained to The Art Newspaper that “It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” after the painting had been shredded to bits. He went on to explain that he’s “not in on the ruse,” but it’s still “unclear” as to how Banksy pulled this stunt off. Did he have an a man on the inside, or was he able to pull off this magic on his own?
Here’s a photo of the painting before it met it’s demise from Instagram:
Branczik had plenty to say about the prank:
“We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context … The shredding is now part of the integral art work. We have not experienced a situation where a painting has spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist.”
Banksy’s literally destructive prank appears to have been a big hit with the public, with even Bloomberg calling it “economic genius.” So he may have to work harder than ever if he wants to top it in the future.
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