Street artist Banksy has been all over the news lately – and with good reason. The enigmatic artist’s “Girl With Balloon” sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $1.4 million, more than three times the estimate and a new auction high for a work solely by the artist, according to Sotheby’s. But once the hammer went down, the piece of art began to self-destruct, being shredded by a rigged frame.
banksy painting self-destructs
It’s often said of creativity that ‘everything has been done’ and that most new art is a reimagining of art that already exists. But Banksy may have managed to pull off a ‘first’ with his self-destructing work.
The video below was posted by the artist on Instagram this morning with the Picasso quote “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
“We’ve been Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Europe, said at a news conference afterward. “I’ll be quite honest,” he continued, “we have not experienced this situation in the past, where a painting is spontaneously shredded upon achieving a record for the artist.”
The New York Times reports that “suspicious minds wondered whether Sotheby’s was completely taken by surprise. Anyone in the auction house who handled the painting would have surely noticed a mechanism on the back of the frame.
Unusually, this relatively small Banksy had been hung on a wall, rather than placed by porters on a podium for the moment of sale. And the artwork was also the last lot in the auction.
“If it had been offered earlier in the sale, it would have caused disruption and sellers would have complained about that,” Ms. Long said. “And Sotheby’s let a man with a bag into the building. They must have known.”