Because Banksy is the art community’s biggest troll, his dramatic choice earlier this month to automatically shred one of his most famous paintings the moment it was sold at auction for $1.4 million was not particularly surprising.
A new “Director’s Cut” of the artist’s initial video depicting that now-infamous moment Girl with Balloon met the shredder, however, shows that not everything went according to plan: while the painting was ultimately shredded halfway through during an auction at Sotheby’s Auction House, the artist had intended to shred the entire painting.
The scene, as captured in the video above, devolved into chaos anyway. Security guards whisk the half-framed painting away like the Secret Service would a politician; meanwhile, shocked onlookers crowd the area, phones held at arm’s length trying to capture what had happened, as a nervous auctioneer tries to calm everyone down and move on with the evening.
The end of the new video captures what should have happened: the entire painting is shredded essentially beyond repair, collapsing on the floor in what was undoubtedly meant to be an exuberant statement on artistic value. Here’s a satisfying GIF showcasing how the painting should have shredded.
The beginning of the video — as in the initial cut Banksy released two days after the stunt— demonstrates how the contraption was built, but the artist doesn’t explain exactly what went wrong on the day. It’s clear that something caused the shredder to stop — but there remains no definitive answer as to whether the shredder jammed or the battery died.
Regardless, the unfinished shredding meant that the work itself remained in one piece, albeit transformed; the stunt did not decrease its value, and according to a statement on the Sotheby’s website posted after the event, the anonymous buyer still purchased the piece of art.
“Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one,” Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art Alex Branczik wrote. “Following his surprise intervention on the night, we are pleased to confirm the sale of the artist’s newly-titled ‘Love is in the Bin,’ the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.”
The anonymous buyer felt similarly, based on a quote given to Sotheby’s.
“When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked,” the buyer said, “but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.”