UK-based artist Banksy arranged one of his well-known painting Girl With Balloon to self-destruct by shredding itself soon after it was auctioned for $1.4 million.
Turns out, Banksy customized the frame himself and secretly built in a portable shredder in the frame of the 2006 painting just in case it got sold for millions at an auction.
The Sotheby's head of contemporary art, Alex Branczik, told The Art Newspaper that he was "not in on the ruse", but ahead of the auction, apparently, a couple staff members had commented on the hefty weight of the frame surrounding the piece.
The auction house identified the buyer - who will keep the piece - as a female European collector and long-standing client of Sotheby's.
A post on Banksy's official Instagram account showed the moment - and the shocked reaction of those in the room - with the words "Going, going, gone".
After the incident on Friday, Banksy posted a video via Instagram that seemed to show how he set up a shredder in the painting.
But what may come as a surprise to you, is that some art-market watchers said the work could now be worth more in its shredded state, than it was intact.
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Those who believe it was a publicity stunt point out several oddities related to the work. The artwork passed through the bottom of its golden frame, producing a partially shredded canvas.
"We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context". It's become something else entirely: Now it's the only Girl with Balloon-and there are other copies that have sold at auction, not to mention the original, which Banksy spray-painted on an East London wall back in 2002-that has also been shredded.
"It's a performance in the line of Marcel Duchamp's "Ready Made", he said speaking of a term coined by the French artist in 1915 to describe a sometimes modified, but always common object, not usually thought of as a work of art.
The work was one of several hundred copies of Banksy's iconic Girl with Balloon.
Despite speculation of Sotheby's collaborating with Banksy to destroy, or rather create another work, the artist's former gallerist Steve Lazarides dismissed those rumours.
"We have not experienced this situation in the pastwhere a painting spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist".