A Banksy painting “self-destructed” Friday evening on the auction podium at Sotheby’s New Bond Street location in London after being sold for 1.04 million pounds.
The spray-painted canvas “Girl With Balloon” was subjected to furious bidding at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale with a winning bid by telephone, fetching more than three times its pre-sale estimate and a record price for the mysterious artist. Shortly after the auction was concluded, an alarm from within the painting sounded, with most of the artwork emerging from the bottom in strips. Hidden within the base of the frame was a shredder.
“We’ve just been Banksy’ed,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s European head of contemporary art, said at a press conference after the auction.
“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,” he said.
Banksy, who remains one of the most mysterious artists of this era, began his career spray-painting buildings in England and has become a global figure. Some of his works include two policemen kissing, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces, and a chimpanzee with a sign displaying the words “Laugh now, but one day I’ll be in charge.”
A post on Banksy’s official Instagram page showed the moment when auction house officials and bidders were stunned when the artwork self-destructed. He titled the post “Going, going, gone…”
Social media immediately responded.
kimsingh, an Instagram user, said, “You have consistently shown the courage to thumb your nose at the commercialism of art. Bravo !!”
Another user asked, “Was it supposed to stop halfway or did it jam?”
evrthmover said, “Fucking historical.”
Banksy had made his feelings known about the commercial art world in a recent masterpiece titled “I Can’t Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit.”