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Banksy painting self-destructs moments after it sold for $1.4M at Sotheby’s. Onlookers beyond shocked.

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Street artist Banksy pulled off the ultimate prank as shocked onlookers watched his painting self-destruct just moments after being sold for $1.4 million.

The elusive artist, who is well-known for his elaborate pranks, had signed the well-known piece of art titled “Girl With Balloon,” which sold for more than three times what it was originally estimated to go for, according to Fox News.

The painting of a small child reaching up toward a red heart-shaped balloon sold for a record price for the artist who has has never fully disclosed his identity. Moments after the the hammer came down at Sotheby’s in London, the painting began to go through a shredder embedded in the frame, emerging on the other side in strips.

“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, head of contemporary European art at Sotheby’s, exclaimed.

Onlookers were shocked and photos captured the moment, including one posted by the artist himself on his Instagram account, captioned, “Going, going, gone…”


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Going, going, gone…

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

Sotheby’s indicated that it was “in discussion about next steps” with the person who purchased the very expensive art piece.

“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.”

“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,” Sotheby’s said in a statement, according to Sky News which reported that, normally, a buyer would not be obligated to finalize a purchase if it is damaged while at the action house.

“But perhaps, now known as the subject of one of the greatest pranks in the art world, Girl With Red Balloon will be worth even more in its shredded state,” Sky News reported.

Smithsonian magazine labeled Banksy a “graffiti master, painter, activist, filmmaker and all-purpose provocateur,” who began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, United Kingdom. Fox News noted his other notable pranks including hanging “an image of a spear-toting ancient human pushing a shopping cart” in the British Museum in 2005 where it remained for a few days before being discovered.

The self-destructing art earned the artist new-found admiration on social media.

Frieda Powers


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