Stunt or statement? R20m Banksy artwork self destructs at auction

Banksy art shredded

"Girl With Balloon", one of the most recognized works of the England-based street artist known as Banksy, fetched a hefty $1.37 million (£1.04 million) at a Sotheby's auction in London on Friday.

The painting, which was sold to an undisclosed buyer, passed through a concealed shredder within the picture frame as soon as the sale was finalized at an auction at Sotheby's in London.

The 12-year-old painting had just been sold for 1,042,000 pounds ($1.37 million) - matching Banksy's all-time record.

It opened with the caption: "A few years ago, I secretly built a shredder into a painting".

Mehdi Ben Cheikh, a Parisian street art specialist, said the stunt was "in the same vein as his performance in NY, which questions and criticises the limits of the art market".

In October 2013, he set up a stall in New York's Central Park selling what appeared to be fake canvases of his works for $60 each.

The Art Newspaper's correspondent Anny Shaw, who was in the auction room, said that while the shredding may have been an "inside job" it certainly looked like a surprise.

Never had we seen such a scene during an auction.

According to the art experts at MyArtBroker.com, the owner of a Banksy print thought to be worth over £40,000 has shredded it themselves, before requesting the print to be listed for a minimum of £80,000.

Prankster artist Banksy has revealed how he carried out his biggest stunt yet. He also has a penchant for elaborate pranks. English cited Robert Rauschenberg's "Erased De Kooning Drawing" - where the artist bought and obliterated the work of a peer - as somewhat of a precedent for Banksy's actions.

The video then jumped to clips of Friday's auction at Sotheby's, indicating that Banksy - or someone who works with him - was there when it happened.

Julien's Auctions have said that the piece is perfectly safe as are other Banksy pieces open to bidding.

"If I were the buyer, I'd probably have been shocked, then I'd want to preserve it exactly as it is", Hove said.

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