Banksy shocks art world by shredding $1.4 mln work at auction

The artwork was shredded moment after going under the hammer for $1.7m

Oh, that Banksy! The artist's Friday night hijinks at a Sotheby's auction snagged worldwide headlines on October 5, as an allegedly unknown apparatus mounted inside a picture frame appeared to shred a valuable "Girl with a Balloon" (2006) image, just as the gavel dropped on the winning £953,829 (~$1,251,423) bid.

"The framed work, spray paint and acrylic on canvas, mounted on board depicted a girl reaching out toward a bright red, heart shaped balloon - one of Banksy's most iconic images - began to pass through a shredder hidden in the frame", the statement said.

The Girl With Balloon sold for over R20 million at an auction in London but then self-destructed the minute the hammer went down.

According to the art experts at MyArtBroker.com, the owner of a Banksy print thought to be worth over £40,000 has shredded it themselves, before requesting the print to be listed for a minimum of £80,000.

The anonymous art world prankster posted "Going, going, gone." with an image of the bewildered people surrounding the work on Instagram shortly after the incident took place. He also added to the swirling debate by suggesting auction house Sotheby's may have been a party to the whole escapade, pointing to oddities about how the work was displayed and why they did not pick up on the work's unusually thick frame.

His name is Banksy and he thinks that art should not be prostituted by capitalism.

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Geneva-based artist Pierre Koukjian, who was at the auction, said the buyer was "very lucky" to own a now-historic piece. "The shredding is now part of the integral artwork".

Turns out, Banksy customized the frame himself and secretly built in a portable shredder in the frame of the 2006 painting just in case it got sold for millions at an auction.

The auction house said it was "in discussion about next steps" with the buyer, whose identity was not disclosed.

"You'd nearly wonder if he'd recognize the fact that it would've doubled the value of the work", Benrimon adds.

It's not known whether Sotheby's had any prior knowledge of the prank, but the painting was conspicuously the final lot of the auction - which meant it marked a spectacular end to the company's Contemporary Art Evening Sale.

Despite rampant speculation, has never officially revealed his identity.

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