Did You See This? Artwork sells for $1.4 Million Then Self-Destructs

  • The graffiti artist named Banksy had one of his pieces of artwork up for auction at Sotheby's in London and the winning bid was 1.04 million pounds (equal to $1.4 million). Apparently, Banksy installed a shredder in the frame and, after the auction, the shredder was triggered and the artwork was shredded.

    The artwork is titled "Girl With Balloon." I would love to know your thoughts on:

    • The artwork
    • The price paid
    • The prank

    I will post the Associated Press article beneath this photo of the artwork.


    The Associated Press Published 9:18 a.m. ET Oct. 6, 2018

    **LONDON (AP) — Art prankster Banksy has struck again.

    A work by the elusive street artist apparently self-destructed in front of startled auction-goers on Friday, moments after being sold for 1.04 million pounds ($1.4 million).

    The spray-painted canvas "Girl With Balloon" went under the hammer at Sotheby's in London, fetching more than three times its pre-sale estimate and equaling a record price for the artist.

    Then, as an alarm sounded, it ran through a shredder embedded in the frame, emerging from the bottom in strips.

    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..."

    Sotheby's — which had noted before the sale that the work's ornate gilded frame was "an integral element of the artwork chosen by Banksy himself" — expressed surprise at the incident.

    "It appears we just got Banksy-ed," said Alex Branczik, head of contemporary European art at the auction house.

    The auction house said it was "in discussion about next steps" with the buyer. Some art-market watchers have suggested the work could be worth even more in its shredded state.

    "We have not experienced this situation in the past . where a painting spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist," Branczik said. "We are busily figuring out what this means in an auction context."

    Banksy is not the first artist to deconstruct his own work. In the years after World War II, German-born artist Gustav Metzger pioneered "auto-destructive art," creating paintings using acid that ate away the fabric beneath.

    Banksy, who has never disclosed his full identity, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world's best-known artists. His mischievous and often satirical images include two policemen kissing, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces and a chimpanzee with a sign bearing the words "Laugh now, but one day I'll be in charge."

    He also has a penchant for elaborate pranks.

    In 2005, he hung an image of a spear-toting ancient human pushing a shopping cart in the British Museum, where it remained for several days before being discovered. The next year he smuggled a life-sized figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee into Disneyland, and in 2015 he erected a full-scale dystopian theme park — "Dismaland" — by the British seaside.

    "Girl With Balloon," which depicts a small child reaching up toward a heart-shaped red balloon, was originally stenciled on a wall in east London and has been endlessly reproduced, becoming one of Banksy's best-known images.

  • I think it's a great thumb to the art world by Banksy - a lot of his original pieces on walls (that are supposed to be temporary) get taken down by people and sold at astronomical rates, with Banksy seeing none of the profits. A lot of people have made a lot of money off his back, and other artists like him.
    For the buyer, I'm sure they're still happy with their purchase - there's a story to the piece and holds historical importance now.
    Really fascinating - I'm glad you brought this to our attention.

  • @larry-whitler Haha YES! Love it, looked up the YouTube so I could watch it happen.

  • @kaitlinmakes I didn't really know much about Banksy. Thank you for sharing. It does seem that, throughout history, the work of artists has made more money for those who are in possession of the art than it has for the artists themselves.

    The three gentlemen who started SVS are doing a great service for artists by showing them how to use the craft and talent of being an artist to actually make money from their work.

    That is why I am so impressed with SVS and with the dialogue I read on this forum.

    P.S. - I just took a look at your own work and, once again, I am blown away by the talent. Awesome artwork.

    • Larry

  • Pro SVS OG

    I’ve been following Bansky for a while now (I´ve bought the first book about him in 2015 in Bruxelles...I still remember how in awe I was of this volume when I first saw it) and I think he is the perfect example of somebody struggling with his own success. Bansky builds his brand on being “anti”. Anti-establishment, anti-governments, anti-restrictions, anti-art-world. But now that he is so successful, the establishment is catching up with him in ways that are distinctly against his original principles and I think he´s having a hard time keeping himself true to himself....and becoming increasingly tangled up with self-contradiction. Is this latest prank really authentic or is it fabricated? Was Sothesby really unaware of what would happen? Difficult to believe knowing how carefully works of art must be scanned and evaluated before being put out for auction. Why did the “destruction” only go so far and not to the end? Isn’t it blatantly obvious to anybody that the value of the piece would be magnified by this “happening “ rather than diminished? It smells too much of PR-coup to be believable and I’m afraid that the suspect that Bansky is compromising himself to the “establishment” he always criticized is hard to avoid....
    Somehow It made me think of Bill Watterson. He is somebody who managed to remain true to his principles until the very end...even when it meant stopping doing what was making him famous. And to this day, you will not see a piece of Calvin and Hobbes merchandise anywhere....he literally turned his back to a million-dollar business to stay true to his beliefs.

  • SVS OG

    Something smells about this story - how was shredder activated? Was there a battery in the frame to power it? How many years can a battery last like that? I feel there’s more to the story to be revealed.
    Having said all that it did make me lol when I read about it yesterday so I guess that’s worth something.

  • @smceccarelli Brilliant response. Love it!

  • @smceccarelli He does sell prints of his work through his online shop (I follow him on facebook) but they are reasonably priced

  • Moderator

    I saw a documentary about street artists once upon a time and Banksy was featured heavily. It was an interesting watch. “Exit through the gift shop”.

  • @larry-whitler
    Than you Larry - that means a lot to me!

    I agree with you - This community and the teachers here have changed my life, to know that it is so possible to have a viable career in the arts - and now when my dad asks me, "How are you going to support yourself with that?", I have answers.

    @smceccarelli you bring up such good points! It never occurred to me to ask those questions!

  • SVS OG

    I would think that someone who could afford 1.4 million for a painting could also afford a pretty good lawyer.... They'd also know that Sotheby's in London probably has pretty good insurance.....I'd pay the 1.4 million for the painting and bring a lawsuit against Sotheby's for 10 million and settle for 5 million out of court and make a nice little profit. Then put the ruined pieces of the painting on the market and make some more money. I think everyone in the situation thought they were being coy....well, I'd make them pay for it.

  • Lol - it's already being used for advertising

  • SVS OG

    To be honest, i don’t really like contemporary art that much. I think they’re just a hot pile of paper shreddings. Hehe

  • SVS OG

    He just released another video on the rehearsal of shred . Shows the button being pressed to activate.

  • @smceccarelli I don't think that he (her or them because we don't really know) is struggling at all. I think he is having fun

  • @burvantill In fact is a Banksy's documentary.

  • @evilrobot missing the total point. Art is not the piece, is the statement, and the piece shredded has more value than the original painting which, by the way, is been reproduced everywhere. So we have an authentic original piece, something really new from the artist and with meaning.
    The real piece of art in all this is the act of shredding the piece.

  • SVS OG

    @zombie-rhythm Nah, I get the point. But thanks for implying that I'm ignorant. I don't care for his work. I think he's a hack. I'm also a capitalist and in this case if I were the buyer I'd make a boat load of money and watch this whole thing backfire in the artists face. And....smile all the way to the bank.

  • SVS OG

    @evilrobot i like the way you think. Make an opportunity out of a tragedy.

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