He’s done it again: mysterious prankster Banksy’s managed to cause another art world stir. Sort of. As you’ll have seen, the politically-motivated street artist has turned (monied) heads this weekend with a controversial auction at Sotheby’s.
A shocked audience watched in horror as, having reached a staggering price of £860,000 — which rose to a cool million pounds when the buyer’s premium was added — Girl with a Balloon shredded itself. The image is one of the Wall and Piece author’s most famous works.
Sotheby’s themselves say, “The unexpected incident became instant art world folklore and certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer.”
Banksy has since revealed that this moment of seemingly random auto-destruction was, in fact, a long-mooted plan that he’s set in motion years before. In an Instagram post yesterday, Banksy — who has been subject to long-running rumours about his real identity — explains that, “A few years ago I secretly built a shredder into a painting,” just in case it ever went to auction. The video post is accompanied by a quote from Picasso – “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
Reports that the prank was conducted by Sacha Baron Cohen are currently unconfirmed.