Was Banksy at the evening sale at Sotheby’s on Friday night? That was the question on everyone’s lips when one of the Bristolian street artist’s paintings mysteriously self-destructed as the contemporary auction drew to a close.
Girl with a Balloon (2006) was the final lot of the night, and just as the canvas hammered at £860,000, or £1.04m with fees—just above his auction record in pounds achieved in 2008—an alarm was triggered inside the work of art. Onlookers turned just in time to see the canvas slip through its faux-gilt frame and be shredded into pieces.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, the auction house’s head of contemporary art, Europe, immediately after the sale. “He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius,” he said, adding that he was “not in on the ruse”, although it is not clear whether other members of staff were. Some commented on the unusually thick frame, which could have easily concealed a shredding mechanism. Read more