Moments after it fetched more than a million pounds at auction in London, street artist Banksy has shocked the world by destroying one of his best-known works.
On Friday “Girl with Balloon” had just sold at Sotheby’s for £1,042,000 ($1.4 million, 1.2 million euros) — a joint record for the maverick artist — when it unexpectedly passed through a shredder hidden in the frame, according to the auction house.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art for Europe, in a press release accompanied by a photo of the bizarre episode.
“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.
Banksy posted his own photo from midway through the shredding on his Instagram page early Saturday, showing onlookers aghast at the stunt.
The caption written below, imitating an auctioneer, read: “going, going, gone”.
The post, and reports of a man dressed in black sunglasses and a hat scuffling with security guards near the entrance to Sotheby’s shortly after the incident, led to speculation the artist was present to trigger it.