Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Banksy pulls off one of the greatest art pranks of all

Banksy pulls off one of the greatest art pranks of all

Banksy, a mysterious artist from Bristol, southwest England, has never confirmed his real identity.

The anonymous graffiti artist's painting Girl With A Balloon self-destructed after being sold for more than £1 million at Sotheby's, dropping through a shredder in its frame. It's become something else entirely: Now it's the only Girl with Balloon-and there are other copies that have sold at auction, not to mention the original, which Banksy spray-painted on an East London wall back in 2002-that has also been shredded.

Banksy bragged about his latest stunt in a post on Instagram, where he wrote, "going, going, gone".

Sotheby's European head of contemporary art Alex Branczik is still trying to get his head around the situation.

A representative for Banksy, when reached, cited the artist's quotation of Picasso that "the urge to destroy is also a creative urge".

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It shows footage from the auction floor and the bewildered faces of the onlookers as the shredding device activates.

While on the surface it appears that the winning bidder quickly took a $1.4 million loss, one art industry insider speculated that Banksy shredding the "Girl With Balloon" painting actually enhanced the work's value.

As the auction listing described, the painting was also "bordered by an ornate gilded frame, an integral element of the artwork chosen by Banksy himself".

Koukjian, who has met Banksy, said he is sure he caught a glimpse of the artist in the saleroom amid the confusion of the moment.

Could this be Banksy filming his own stunt?

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It doesn't appear to have put off Banksy owners, however, who have contacted after they estimated that the torn-up piece had roughly doubled in value after the stunt.

Initial concern for the unlucky new owner of the piece soon evaporated, as art experts tipped the half-destroyed work was probably now worth more.

"We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context ..."

Another 20 percent of people think Banksy is an artist called Robin Gunningham and 13 percent believe he is the artist Robert Del Naja.

A buyer would not normally be expected to go through with the purchase if a work is damaged while in the care of an auction house. "It's certainly the first piece to be spontaneously shredded as an auction ends".

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