Story by ASSOCIATED PRESS
LONDON — Art prankster Banksy has struck again.
A work by the elusive street artist apparently self-destructed in front of startled auction-goers on Friday, moments after being sold for 1.04 million pounds ($1.4 million).
The spray-painted canvas “Girl With Balloon” went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London, fetching more than three times its pre-sale estimate and equaling a record price for the artist.
Then, as an alarm sounded, it ran through a shredder embedded in the frame, leaving half the canvas hanging from the bottom in strips.
A post on Banksy’s official Instagram account showed the moment — and the shocked reaction of those in the room — with the words “Going, going, gone…”
Sotheby’s — which had noted before the sale that the work’s ornate gilded frame was “an integral element of the artwork chosen by Banksy himself” — expressed surprise at the incident.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, head of contemporary European art at the auction house.
The auction house said it was “in discussion about next steps” with the buyer. Some art-market watchers say the work could be worth even more in its shredded state.
“We have not experienced this situation in the past . where a painting spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist,” Branczik said. “We are busily figuring out what this means in an auction context.”
Geneva-based artist Pierre Koukjian, who was at the auction, said the buyer was “very lucky” to own a now-historic piece. He called Banksy’s prank “a turning point in the history of contemporary and conceptual art.”
Moments after the gavel sounded on the $1.4 million sale of the Banksy artwork, an alarm sounded and it slipped through a shredder hidden in the frame, cutting it to pieces. https://t.co/ajj0gkSZXb
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 7, 2018