A rare piece of artwork from notorious street artist Banksy went up for auction last night — only to self-destruct moments after it was sold.
According to The Art Newspaper, a copy of one of Banksy's better-known works, Girl With Balloon, was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London, garnering a record-setting bid of $1.4 million. Once the bidding had come to a close on the iconic piece, the artwork started to sound an alarm and was subsequently destroyed by a shredder hidden within the frame. Staff proceeded to rush the artwork out of the room before it could be fully shredded.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” noted Alex Branczik, Sotheby's European head of contemporary art. “He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius.” Branczik insisted that Sotheby’s was “not in on the ruse.”
“We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context,” he added. “The shredding is now part of the integral art work. We have not experienced a situation where a painting has spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist.” According to Sotheby's records, Girl With Balloon was acquired directly from the artist in 2006.
You can also read an official statement from Sotheby's here.
Previously in 2012, a different copy of the Girl With Balloon painting sold for between £15,000 and £25,000 (approximately $19,680-$32,800) at a Bonhams auction.