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06 Oct 2018

Artwork sold for $1.4mn self-destructs at auction leaving audience stunned

On Friday night, a rare piece of art by renowned and mysterious street artist Banksy went up for sale at the Sotheby's auction in London.

Moments after the gavel fell and the artwork sold for a whopping $1.4mn, it self-destructed, leaving the audience stunned.

For an artist whose career has been marked by stunts, this could well be Banksy's most perfect prank.

Here's more.

In context

Banksy pulls a perfect prank at London auction


What went down at the Sotheby's auction

The artwork in question was a copy of Banksy's iconic "Girl with Balloon" painting, which, according to the provenance, was directly acquired from the artist in 2006.

As soon as the painting was sold at the auction, an alarm got triggered inside its thick wooden frame, and within seconds, the painting was shredded to bits in front of a stunned audience.

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Was Banksy present at the auction? Many think so

Following the shocking incident, a man dressed in black, sporting sunglasses and a hat was spotted in a scuffle with guards, causing many in the audience to speculate that the elusive street artist himself had attended the auction, and had triggered the painting to self-destruct.

However, to the audience's dismay, Banksy's presence at the auction could not be confirmed.

What Sotheby's head of contemporary art had to say

Commenting on the incident, Alex Branczik, Sotheby's head of contemporary art, Europe, said, "It appears we just got Banksy-ed. He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius." Branczik also denied any involvement in the prank.

What now?

What will happen to the shredded artwork?

So, what's to become of the painting now?

Well, Sotheby's has no clue as yet, since it is the first incident of its kind.

However, it's highly likely the shredded artwork will be preserved to mark the unprecedented incident, and it's also possible that the artwork itself will be worth much more now, thanks to Banksy's prank.

Sotheby's has been left stunned and perplexed by the prank

"We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context. The shredding is now part of the integral art work. We have not experienced a situation where a painting has spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist," said a perplexed Branczik.


A bit about the mysterious Banksy and his art

For those unaware, Banksy is no stranger to controversy.

An anonymous street artist known for his subversive and satirical street art, Banksy's artwork involves social and political themes, and many have featured in city streets across the world.

He is also known for his dystopian, temporary art project, Dismaland, which was described as a "sinister twist on Disneyland".

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