‘We just got Banksy-ed’: Artwork self-destructs moments after $1.4 million sale

Spray-painted canvas ‘Girl With Balloon’ by elusive street artist Banksy went through a shredder just minutes after being sold for three-times its pre-sale estimate

An original print by street artist Banksy was stolen from an unauthorized exhibition in Toronto. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

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, emerging 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.

View this post on Instagram

Going, going, gone…

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

“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 have suggested 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.”

Banksy is not the first artist to deconstruct his own work. In the years after World War II, German-born artist Gustav Metzger pioneered “auto-destructive art,” creating paintings using acid that ate away the fabric beneath.

Banksy, who has never disclosed his full identity, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world’s best-known artists. His mischievous and often satirical images include two policemen kissing, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces and a chimpanzee with a sign bearing the words “Laugh now, but one day I’ll be in charge.”

He also has a penchant for elaborate pranks.

In 2005, he hung an image of a spear-toting ancient human pushing a shopping cart in the British Museum, where it remained for several days before being discovered. The next year he smuggled a life-sized figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee into Disneyland, and in 2015 he erected a full-scale dystopian theme park — “Dismaland” — by the British seaside.

“Girl With Balloon,” which depicts a small child reaching up toward a heart-shaped red balloon, was originally stenciled on a wall in east London and has been endlessly reproduced, becoming one of Banksy’s best-known images.

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Freestyle motocross riders bring death-defying tricks to SOEC

Freestyle Motocross World Tour is coming to the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton

South Okanagan emergency department closing overnight

Limited physician availability temporarily closes emergency at South Okanagan General Hospital

Hearts and Hands conference to celebrate health care assistants

The Victoria-based WorkSafeBC conference is happening in Penticton on Oct. 17

Weekend activities to take care of your FOMO

See what’s going on the region this weekend

Video: Okanagan Fest of Ale Society doles out $60,000

The society has given out over $60,000 to Penticton and area not-for-profits since 1996

VOTE: Nature in Focus reader’s choice photo contest

The Penticton Western News Reader’s Choice photo contest

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

South Okanagan man alleged to have exposed genitals to children

Penticton RCMP said incident occurred at the Kiwanis Park

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

Most Read