A Banksy artwork â€œself-destructedâ€ at a Friday night Sothebyâ€™s auction in London.
â€œGirl with a Balloonâ€ (2006) was the final lot of the evening sale at Sothebyâ€™s and ended things off with an impressive final price of Â£953,829 (~$1,251,423), or Â£1,042,000 with buyerâ€™s premium (~$1,367,104). Maybe people shouldâ€™ve suspected something was suspicious when the artwork sold for the exact same figure as the artistâ€™s previous auction record in 2008.
Robert Casterline of Casterline Goodman gallery was in attendance and told Hyperallergic what happened next. He explained there was â€œcomplete confusionâ€ and an â€œalarm inside the frame started going off as the gavel went down.â€
â€œ[It] sold for over a million dollars and as we sat thereâ€¦the painting started moving,â€ he said, and added that the paintingâ€™s frame, also made by Banksy, acted as a shredder and started to cut the canvas into strips. â€œ[It was] all out confusion then complete excitement,â€ he explained.
Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper spoke to Alex Branczik, the auction houseâ€™s head of contemporary art for Europe, who seemed as surprised as anyone. â€œIt appears we just got Banksy-ed,â€ he said immediately after the sale. He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius,â€ he said, adding that he was â€œnot in on the ruse.â€
Shaw also reports that there was speculation â€œthat the elusive artist had himself pressed the button that destroyed the work.â€
But is the work destroyed? Or is it transformed? Even Branczik isnâ€™t sure. â€œYou could argue that the work is now more valuable,â€ Branczik said.