Anonymous artist Banksy stunned the world when his ‘Girl with Red Balloon’ painting shredded itself moments after being sold for $1 million at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London.
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Depicting a girl reaching towards a bright red heart-shaped balloon, the spray paint and acrylic on canvas is one of Banksy’s best-known images.
The 12-year-old painting had just been sold for over 1 million pounds, matching Banksy’s all-time record.
But just after the hammer went down at the auction, the painting was shredded, thought to be by a remotely activated mechanism within the frame. Stunned art fans watched on as the canvas was fed through a hidden shredder.
Banksy himself posted an Instagram picture of shocked attendees watching the painting disintegrate, with the caption, “Going, going, gone…”
“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,” the auctioneers added in the statement.
If a work is damaged while in the care of an auction house, a buyer would not normally be expected to go through with the purchase.
But perhaps, now known as the subject of one of the greatest pranks in the art world, Girl With Red Balloon will be worth even more in its shredded state.