Buyers at Sotheby’s auction house in London were up for a surprise when a famous painting, “Girl with Balloon”, was sold for over 1 million pounds. As soon as the auctioneer hit the gavel, the bottom half of the painting shredded itself to pieces, much to the onlookers’ surprise. Its painter is the now-famous British graffiti artist Banksy.
Video footage showed two men taking the painting away shortly after the sale, bits of the image hanging down from the bottom of the frame 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…”
Alex Branczik, senior director and head of contemporary art, said in a statement on Sotheby’s website,
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed. We have not experienced this situation in the past . where a painting spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist. “
This is not the first time Banksy has pulled off such a prank. 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.
Banksy, whose real identity is unknown, is known for sharply ironic outdoor graffiti with political themes, including at Israel’s barrier at the West Bank and Disneyland where he painted a life-size figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee. Once a small-time graffiti artist from the English city of Bristol, Banksy’s work has become hugely valuable.
(with inputs from Reuters)