Banksy’s latest prank could cost one person over $1 million after the street artist self-destructed one of his works moments after it was sold at auction.
A framed version of Banksy’s “Girl With Balloon,” one of the artist’s most iconic images, hit the auction block Friday night at Sotheby’s in London. However, moments after a $1.4 million winning bid was placed, an alarm within the painting sounded and the canvas “began to pass through a shredder hidden in the frame,” Sotheby’s writes.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe, said as the painting destroyed itself, the Guardian reports.
In a statement, Sotheby’s said of the prank, “We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprised by the story. We are in discussion about next steps.”
Banksy himself captured the moment of shredding on Instagram with a photo captioned “Going, going, gone…”
Banksy also shared a video revealing how he concocted the prank, which was a fail-safe “in case it was ever put up for auction”:
Sotheby’s added that the prank “became instant art world history and certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer.”
While on the surface it appears that the winning bidder quickly took a $1.4 million loss, one art industry insider speculated that Banksy shredding the “Girl With Balloon” painting actually enhanced the work’s value.
“Given the media attention this stunt has received, the lucky buyer would see a great return on the [$1.4 million] they paid last night,” MyArtBroker’s Joey Syer told the Guardian.
“This is now part of art history in its shredded state and we’d estimate Banksy has added at a minimum 50 percent to its value, possibly as high as being worth £2m plus.”