Anonymous artist Banksy, known for his stunts and antics may have pulled his biggest prank yet this Friday.
Banksy’s “Girl with Balloons” painting began to self destruct at Sotheby’s auction house in London moments after it was purchased for $1.4 million.
According to a news release from Sotheby’s, the image began “self destructing” after a shredder inside the “artist’s frame” began working. The method by which the image was shredded is not clear but it is believed that it could have been activated using a remote controller.
Banksy was quick to post about his stunt on Instagram with this caption, “Going, going, gone…”
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“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director of contemporary art.
“I’ll be quite honest…We have not experienced this situation in the past, where a painting is spontaneously shredded upon achieving a record for the artist,” he continued.
Branczik also added that he was “not in on the ruse.”
“Girl with Balloon”, a spray paint on canvas from 2006, was the final sale during Sotheby’s contemporary art “Frieze Week”. According to Sotheby’s, auctioneer Oliver Baker sold the piece for 1 million pounds, more than tripling the original estimate.
Morgan Long, the head of art investment at the London-based advisory firm at the Fine Art Group, had a front row seat during the auction. He said in an interview on Saturday: “Everyone turned round, and the picture had slipped through the frame.”
On Saturday, Sotheby’s said in a statement: “The successful bider was a private collector, bidding through a Sotheby’s staff member on the phone. We are currently in discussions about next steps.”