Look, I kinda like Banksy.

I know that’s not really a cool position to stake out. It is actually amazing how quickly the public reaction to what is obviously a pretty great prank—his “self-destructing” version of Girl With Balloon at last Friday’s Sotheby’s sale, moments after it sold for a record price—turned into dismissal and condemnation.

“Banksy’s prank is cynical, damaging and highly suspicious,” thundered a totally unsolicited op-ed that rolled into by email inbox on Saturday, denouncing Banksy and his suspected collusion with Sotheby’s on the prank.

“This publicity stunt is demeaning to all involved. They have treated the public and the art world with mocking contempt,” Stephen Howes of Thomas Crown Art went on to declare righteously. Such outrage!

It is truly funny for uninvolved parties sending out press releases to denounce other people for publicity seeking. (The gentleman in question runs a cryptocurrency-art business.)

Banksy’s Girl with a Balloon appeared to shred itself after selling for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s on Friday night. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Aside from just being a great gag, I love the variation of the Liar’s Paradox that the “self-destructing art” stunt puts Sotheby’s in.

Being in on it puts the auction house in the awkward position of having lied to any of the rich people who would have set their heart on the work (which, after all, was voted the UK’s “best-loved” piece of art) or invested time in bidding, for the sake of… PR to attract more rich people? Read more