A rare Banksy artwork, Girl With a Balloon (2006), self-destructed moments after it was sold for a record-setting bid of $1.4 million USD at Sotheby’s in New York City.
Immediately after the sale, the artwork set off an alarm and its canvas slipped through a shredder built inside the faux-gilt frame, essentially “destroying” itself. After videos were taken, staff rushed the piece out of the room. Then, a man dressed in black wearing sunglasses and a hat was seen scuffling with security guards near the entrance, causing onlookers to wonder if Banksy himself was actually inside the auction room.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, Europe. “We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context. The shredding is now part of the integral artwork. We have not experienced a situation where a painting has spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist,” Branczik said. “You could argue that the work is now more valuable.”