On Friday night during an auction and London’s Sotheby’s, Banksy played what could be remembered as one of the boldest tricks in art history, when Girl With Balloon self-destructed minutes after being sold for a record US$1.4 million.
When the famous canvas, whose sale price matched Banksy’s previous record, started to pass through the shredder in the frame, most attendees in the audience were shocked and instantly took out their phones to take videos and pictures that went viral.
“We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprised by the story. We are in discussion about next steps,” Sotheby’s, which declined to reveal the identity of the buyer, said in a statement to the Financial Times.
Soon after his stunt successfully took place, on Saturday evening, the artist posted a video detailing his auction’s stunt plan with the caption “’The urge to destroy is also a creative urge’- Picasso.” The video revealed that Banksy had built the shredder five years ago, in case the painting was ever going to be put up for auction.
And when it did, the entire world got “Banksy-ed,” as Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, Europe, mentioned.
Girl With Balloon was voted the UK’s best-loved work of art in 2017 and first appeared on a wall in Shoreditch, East London in 2006.
Banksy, whose true identity has never been revealed, despite speculations, has been establishing himself as one of the most provocative artists of our time through elaborate stunts and jokes that represent his style and his social critiques.
As art is increasingly connected to performance, many international artists followed the Bristol-born anonymous sensation and performed stunts to impress audiences worldwide and to leave a mark. These include, among others, British painter Sebastian Horsely, who actually got crucified in the Philippines to paint the crucifixion and Swiss artist Milo Moire, who stood naked outside Art Cologne and squeezed paint-filled eggs out of her vagina to the astonishment of attendees.