Published: Wed, October 10, 2018

Banksy shocks art world by shredding £1m work at auction

Banksy shocks art world by shredding £1m work at auction

Banksy, the elusive British street artist, stunned the art world on Friday, October 5, with one of his most elaborate and shocking pranks.

The original painting Girl With Balloon sold for a record £1.04 million - but then.

The artist had installed a shredder into the frame of one his best known works, "Girl With Ballon".

The painting, which was sold to an undisclosed buyer, passed through a concealed shredder within the picture frame as soon as the sale was finalized at an auction at Sotheby's in London. Sotheby's maintains the art house was unaware of any plans for the stunt before it occurred.

The clip shows him placing the blade and later cuts to footage shot inside the auction room of the moment the shredder does its job. While the act may have been in protest of the art market and the exorbitant prices paid for works of art at auction, experts declare that the value of the piece will most likely increase as a result of the performance.

The artist devised a frame containing a shredder that destroyed the print of "Girl with Balloon" as soon as the winning bid was confirmed, leaving the victor with a print that looked like the remains of an old bank statement.

The artwork was signed and dedicated and the vendor acquired it from the artist in 2006, the auction house said.

There was also something unusual about the video Banksy posted Saturday on his Instagram page.

And what about the identity of the man in the salesroom who remotely activated the shredding device? On Saturday, Daily Mail noted the similarity between the person identified as Gunningham 10 years ago and a man taking a cellphone video in the Sotheby's salesroom Friday. He, too, was identified as Banksy, by Lang.

Sotheby's European head of contemporary art told the press: "We've just been Banksy'ed". "He stencilled a "gangsta rat" on the gallery wall during the preview of Damien Hirst's "Pharmacy" sale 14 years ago, nearly to the day".

It feels improbable on many levels that such shenanigans could have really taken places without some kind of buy-in from Sotheby's, and likewise improbable that anyone within the big-money art scene would willingly abet the destruction of a paycheck - sanctity of the actual art aside. But when the Dismaland website crashed in response to high ticket demand, the disappointment lived up to the "bemusement" park's name when people were convinced it was all part of his art.

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