On Friday night, his legendary work "Girl with a Balloon" was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for more than $1.2 million. However, when the auction closed, an alarm allegedly rung from the artwork and the painting began to move downwards, into a shredder installed in the frame. The canvas was then cut into small strips.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s European director of contemporary art said to the Art Newspaper. “He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius.” Branczik added that he was “not in on the ruse."
The Financial Times reported that the vendor selling “Girl with a Balloon” had purchased the piece from the artist. “We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprise by the story. We are in discussion about next steps,” Sotheby’s shared in a statement.
Per Vulture, a few outlets thought that shredding the piece had to necessitate that Banksy—or someone close to him—had to be present in the room in order to mobilize the shredder. The Art Newspaper revealed that, “a man dressed in black sporting sunglasses and a hat was seen scuffling with security guards near the entrance to Sotheby’s shortly after the incident.” You can view photos of the shredded "Girl with a Balloon" below.
On Saturday morning, Banksy shared a video where he gave a glimpse into how he installed the shredder into the painting's frame. The video includes a message from the artist, “A few years ago I secretly built a shredder into a painting... in case it was ever put up for auction...” followed by footage from Sotheby's. Paired with the video is a quote by Picasso, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”