For an artist that’s known for his stunts, this could be Banksy’s most perfect art world prank.
After the gavel fell Friday at Sotheby’s auction house in London, Banksy’s “Girl with Balloon” was reduced to shreds — another apparent act in the disruptive career of the anonymous British graffiti artist.
The iconic image of a girl reaching out for a red, heart-shaped balloon sold for $1.4 million, and moments later, a shredder hidden inside the “artist’s frame” started its work, according to a news release from Sotheby’s and the art “self-destructed.”
Banksy summed up the stunt with this quote on his Instagram account – “Going, going, gone…” and a posted picture showed stunned onlookers as the shredded art emerges from the bottom of the frame.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director of contemporary art, said in the news release.
There’s no word on how the shredder started operating at the key moment after the auction, though it could have been activated by a remote mechanism. Banksy posted a video on Instagram showing the process of building the shredder into the frame.
The auction price of $1.4 million for the spray paint and acrylic on canvas Girl with Balloon tied the artist’s previous record set in 2008.