Street art is an art form that still isn't highly respected in art circles, though that is quickly changing. The cultural impact of street art can not be denied. There have been artists who have used their street art success to make careers for themselves. One such artist is Banksy.
Banksy is one of the most famous street artists and cultural commentators. The strange thing is that no one knows who he is, despite how many public performances he has put on. Sometimes it is as if there are many Banksys. It's the only way to explain how he pulls off his stunts.
He has created pieces of art as simple as murals to as complex as the theme park Dismaland, a play off of Disneyland. It's no question that he's a genius, but what he recently did just goes to show how he is truly a genius. He shredded his own painting seconds after it was sold.
The whole bizarre situation went down at a Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale on Friday in London. The painting that was up for sale is called 'Girl With Red Balloon.' It is one of Banksy's more famous pieces of works depicting a girl holding a red balloon. It is painted on canvas using spray paint and acrylic. Allegedly the painting was signed and was given to the seller back in 2006. Allegedly because who knows what is real when it comes to Banksy.
There's something that doesn't quite smell right about Banksy selling a painting at a Sotheby's auction. It's like it stands against everything that Banksy stands for. It turns out that Banksy would do something that fall exactly in line with the spirit of Banksy. He destroyed it moments after it was sold.
The bid that won the 'Girl With Red Balloon' painting came in at £860,000. With the buyer's premium included, the total came out to £1,042,000. The winner gave their bid via phone just around 9pm. The estimate for the price was originally £200-300,000, so the sale of the piece was more than successful. Right after the sale was concluded, the painting began to do something peculiar.
Without warning, the painting began to slide down the frame into a hidden shredding device. Half the painting was shredded, hanging down the frame in strips. The crowd could only stand there with mixed reactions. Some can be seen smiling, while others are oblivious. It was Alex Branczik, Sotheby's senior director and head of contemporary art who said it best: "It appears we just got Banksy-ed."
Banksy briefly posted a video about the prank on social media before he deleted it. Some internet savvy users screen recorded the video before it was taken down. In it Banksy shows himself altering the frame to fit the paper shredder and revealing that he would simply wait for it to be sold. It is truly a genius level prank that required a lot of patience.
As for the painting afterward, the usual rule is that a buyer wouldn't have to purchase a painting that gets damaged while in the care of the auction house, however, this situation is a little different. The auctioneers saw it as something historic. Going as far to say, "The unexpected incident became instant art world folklore and certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer."