One of Banksy’s paintings self-destructed just after it was auctioned

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

On Friday, auction house Sotheby’s sold a painting by British graffiti artist Banksy for $1.4 million. The piece was a copy of one of the artist’s most famous works, an image of a girl releasing a red balloon, and moments after it was sold, the painting self-destructed, shredding itself while onlookers watched.

In a video, Banksy explained that he had secretly installed a shredder in the frame of the painting, titled “Girl with Balloon,” to destroy it if it ever went up for auction. The anonymous artist is known for creating satirical and subversive political art, and by shredding the painting, he essentially turned the auction itself into a work of art, quoting artist Picasso in an Instagram post: “the urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

Sotheby’s described the painting as a “framed work, spray paint and acrylic on canvas,” and notes that it’s “the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself.” It’s certainly a long-simmering plot, and it seems unlikely that the shredder and its power source would have remained a secret for so long.

The painting itself was a 2006 reproduction of the iconic image, which features a girl releasing a red balloon. The original image was spray painted on a building in East London in 2002, although it was covered up for many years before it was removed in 2014 and sold at auction the following year. Other copies of the painting have been auctioned over the years.

Comments

Welcome to the art-world…

Amazing Sothebys got involved in a stupid publicity stunt like this.

Can we not have the occasional break from the routine?

Over a million for a copy? WTH

I wonder if the buyer was in on it too. Otherwise there could easily be a lawsuit.

Buyer should be delighted. It’s worth considerably more now.

Lawsuit against who? Banksy?

Staged or not staged…whatever the case, the look on those people’s faces is just priceless

He can now re-sell it for 15 million… No longer a reproduction but an original Banksey statement piece.

The thing is : His brand is so huge in the art community. By him doing the self destruction actually will most likely raise its price as "the 1st ever bank sys self destruct art piece" lol

I can totally see it in art museums " and this right here kids , is the worlds first self destruct art piece" it fetched 1.4 million at an auction and everybody was surprised when it destroyed itself.

Either the shredder was battery-operated and then it is a remarkable feat to stay loaded so long. Otherwise, the whole thing had to be plugged in an outlet and then the auction house would have been an accomplice to a certain extent.

Its battery operated, when they take it off the wall there’s no cords or outlets to plug anything into.

I wonder if it was sitting in that frame the whole time just waiting or if they were somehow able to put it in the frame just before auction. If it was there a couple years would the battery even still be good? Why didnt it shred it all the way either?

Alkalines can last up to 10 years at room temperature, Lithium will go up to 15. Though it looks like the piece doesn’t quite have enough juice left to shred the whole painting.

Alse, how come the painting in the frame appears to bu much whiter than the paper that came out?

There’s a bright light focused on the canvas but not on the wall below it. Pretty normal for art shows or auctions.

Seems to me that the value would be increased. A lot.

View All Comments
Back to top ↑