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Banksy's Iconic 'Girl with Balloon' Artwork Self-Destructs Moments After Being Sold

The artist built a shredder into the painting a few years ago, "in case it was ever put up for auction".
By Sarah Ward
October 07, 2018
By Sarah Ward
October 07, 2018

Whether Banksy is building the world's most depressing theme park, crafting a dark tourism ad for Gazaopening a Bethlehem guesthouse with a view of the Israeli-Palestinian border or spray painting his pieces all over the globe, the artist's work tends to make a statement. That said, nothing sends a message quite like ripping your own painting to shreds.

In a turn of events that the crowd at London's Sotheby's auction house definitely weren't expecting, Banksy's Girl with Balloon artwork self-destructed as the hammer fell on the winning bid. The moment that the painting had been sold on Friday, October 5 — for the hefty sum of £860,000 (AU$1.6 million) — the piece emitted a beeping noise. Then the artwork began to slide through a shredder embedded in the bottom of the frame, coming out the other side in torn pieces.

In a video posted on the artist's Instagram feed and YouTube channel, Banksy is shown secretly building a shredder into a painting, with an explanation that this was done a few years ago "in case it was ever put up for auction". The clip then jumps to the scene at Sotheby's during and after the auction. Unsurprisingly, things get chaotic.

Sotheby's has advised that it had no knowledge of the prank before it happened. "It appears we just got Banksy-ed," Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art for Europe, told The Art Newspaper.

Just what will happen to the piece now is still being determined, with suggestions that the work has gone up in value after being partly shredded. It certainly does continue Banksy's fascination with both creation and destruction, which has long been a theme at the centre of the street artist's work.

Images: Olga Rozenbajgier, The Art of BanksyBanksy.

Published on October 07, 2018 by Sarah Ward
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