“Going, going, gone…”
Imagine bidding $1.4 million on a painting, and moments later it starts to self-destruct.
On October 5th in London Sotheby’s auction house, Banksy, a notoriously anonymous street artist, sold his most famous stencil drawing of a girl. With its striking simplicity and raw immediacy, Girl with Balloon (2006) is one of Banksy’s widely recognizable images. Moments after the painting was sold, it began to shred out of the frame. This shocked everyone. Never had such a thing occurred at a Sotheby’s auction. An investigation was subsequently launched to determine what caused the painting to self-destruct and who was at fault.
The buyer was also concerned about the value of the painting, but decided to keep it. Miraculously, the value of the painting increased to $5 million. It turns out the person responsible for the stunt of the painting was the artist himself.
Banksy has a long history of pranks. In 2004, he distributed fake money at a London Carnival. He replaced Queen Elizabeth on the 10-pound note with Princess Diana. A few of the recipients even tried using the fake currency. In 2013, he sold his artwork through a street vendor in Central Park. He sold signed original copies for only $60 apiece.
A day after the incident Banksy posted on Instagram an old video of someone installing a shredder into the frame of the painting. Whereby, he planned to destroy the painting in the event it was sold at an auction.
Luckily for Banksy, his stunt was praised by the art world. His paintings and popularity have further skyrocketed. People might be wary of purchasing another Banksy painting, but in the meantime, he is busy shocking the art world.