$1.4 Million Artwork Self-Destructs

Banksy planned the artwork’s self-destruction years ago More

The art world is in still in a frenzy over the shocking prank pulled by mysterious artist, Banksy at an auction held in the prestigious Sotheby's on Friday 5 October 2018. With some of the image hanging down in strips, the 2006 work of spray paint on canvas of a girl reaching for a red, heart-shaped balloon was swiftly carried off.

"It appears we just got Banksy-ed", said Alex Branczik, Senior Director and Head of Contemporary Art, Europe London.

Banksy later posted a video of the self-destructing painting on Instagram in which he claimed he equipped the frame with a shredder in case the painting was ever sold.

Banksy is also theorised to not be one person - but rather a collective of artists working around Britain. It is still unclear how the shredder was activated, amidst speculation that Banksy was in the Sothebys auction as part of the crowd.

While on the surface it appears that the winning bidder quickly took a $1.4 million loss, one art industry insider speculated that Banksy shredding the "Girl With Balloon" painting actually enhanced the work's value. In the years after World War II, German-born artist Gustav Metzger pioneered "auto-destructive art", creating paintings using acid that ate away the fabric beneath.

Friday's self-destruction was the latest in a long history of anti-establishment statements by the street artist.

In an idiotic footnote to the stunt, one owner of a Girl with Balloon shredded his copy of the work, valued at £(US$53,000) with a Stanley knife believing it would also appreciate in value.

Banksy is known for having tight-lipped collaborators who work with him, and it is also possible he had people placed in the room to record the event.

"We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context".

The auction house said it would be discussing next steps with the buyer over the coming days, but some experts say the stunt would cause the shredded work of art to increase in value.

Sotheby's refused to reveal who had bought the piece before it was shredded.

In anonymous interviews, Banksy has cited Del Naja as an influence - and he is credited as being the first graffiti artist in Bristol.

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