On Saturday, October 6th, the anonymous street artist Banksy stunned the art world at Sotheby’s in London. His very popular painting titled “Girl with Red Balloon” was being auctioned with bidding that broke Banksy’s previous auction record, $1.4m. This very popular piece was comprised of acrylic and spray paint and shows an endearing young girl attempting to grab a heart shaped balloon that is floating just beyond her reach. Little did everyone know Banksy created this piece with a secret shredder engineered in the bottom of the frame.
When the piece was announced as sold for $1.4m, the art work could be seen sliding downwards into the bottom of the frame and shredding into dangling strips below. Needless to say, the entire room was speechless as they watched the painting destroy itself in plain sight. No one knew if this was purposeful or accidental until Banksy posted a photo capturing the event on his Instagram and captioned it “Going, going, gone…”
Banksy’s reputation for brilliant stunts in the art world started in the streets but recently has been accused of “selling out” as his work has become recognized in the most elite art circles. He chose to make this “statement” to remind everyone that the nature of his work is for art not money. The irony is that the art world may still disagree. This historical event may have caused his now shredded “Girl with Red Balloon” to double in value as the only painting to ever self-destruct upon purchase.
Check out Banksy’s video on how he pulled it off: