A painting by mysterious British artist Banksy shred itself into pieces at the moment it sold for more than $1.7 CAD at a London auction on Friday, Oct. 5.
Onlookers gasped and laughed after the bottom half of “Girl with Balloon”, one of Banksy’s best-known works, was sucked into a shredder hidden in its frame as the hammer fell, auction house Sotheby’s said.
The 12-year-old painting had just been sold for $1.7 million CAD – matching Banksy’s all-time record.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, senior director and head of contemporary art, said in a statement on Sotheby’s website.
Banksy himself posted an Instagram picture of shocked attendees watching the painting disintegrate, with the caption: “Going, going, gone…”
Sotheby’s said this was “certainly” the first time a work of art started to shred itself after coming under the hammer.
Video footage showed two men taking the painting away shortly after the sale, bits of the image hanging down from the bottom of the frame in strips.
The auction house was not immediately available for comment on the whereabouts of the painting’s remains, or how its value might have changed in light of its self-destruction.
Banksy, whose real identity is unknown, is known for sharply ironic outdoor graffiti with political themes, including at Israel’s barrier at the West Bank and Disneyland where he painted a life-size figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.
New video below shows rehearsal footage of Banksy shredding his work. Once a small-time graffiti artist from the English city of Bristol, Banksy’s work has become hugely valuable.