The artist Banksy is known for elaborate hijinks, from masking his (or her) identity to his latest destructive, headline-grabbing stunt that’s now driving up the price of an already expensive artwork.
On Friday night, Banksy’s “Girl With Balloon” sold for $1.37 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London. Moments after the last hammer hit the podium, a shredder stealthily installed in the frame ribboned the painting, as stunned bidders watched in shock (a few in amusement) and assistants struggled to get the work off the wall and prevent further damage.
Banksy later posted a video of the self-destructing painting on Instagram in which he claimed he equipped the frame with a shredder in case the painting was ever sold. Presumably the frame shown in the video is the one that was holding “Girl With Balloon” on Friday, though it’s worth noting that with Banksy, things are rarely exactly as they seem.
Now, the piece, spray paint and acrylic on canvas and mounted (obviously) in the artist’s own frame, has doubled in value according to the Evening Standard. The painting’s new but surely iconic place in art history may see the price only increase further in the coming months.
The original “Balloon Girl” first appeared on a London street in 2002. The gallery version that was up for sale on Friday was rendered in 2006, and it was signed and dedicated on the back. Sotheby’s did not make the buyer’s identity public following last week’s unusual auction.