Moments after a piece of art sold for more than £1 million, a shocked crowd watched a painting shredding stunt unfold before their eyes.
If there was anything people attending an art auction weren’t expecting to see, it was a painting shredding on cue.
The piece, titled “Girl With Balloon,” had just sold for £1.042 million, or about $1.37 million in U.S. dollars. Suddenly, the painting started sliding down in the frame and out of the bottom, shredded as if fed into a paper shredder.
The artist, an anonymous street artist known only as Banksy, posted a photo of the shredding on his Instagram account.
He also released a video demonstrating how he’d placed a shredder into the frame.
Banksy — or an accomplice — somehow activated the shredding at just the right moment: right after someone had won an auction for it.
How did it happen?
Well, no one is quite sure as yet how the shredding process was activated. It’s possible it was done by a signal from a cell phone.
Banksy’s video included footage of the actual shredding, so either he or someone who gave him the video, was there for the big moment. It’s not clear whether the person who recorded the footage was Bansky or the person who actually activated the shredder.
Art critics lauded Banksy’s stunt, suggesting that it was a statement on the part of the artist, a commentary about trying to put a monetary value on his artwork.
Others suggested that because of the stunt, the work is now worth a lot more than the selling price.
I’m not sure about that part. If you’d just shelled out that much money for a framed painting, would be satisfied with it shredded?
In the hours after the painting shredding incident, it wasn’t immediately clear whether the auction winner would have to pay.
Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe, told BBC the auction house was “busily figuring out what this means in an auction context.”
Translation: They hadn’t decided whether they still planned to demand the auction winner pay for the now-destroyed artwork.
Or the newly-altered artwork.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Sotheby’s said, “We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprised by the story. We are in discussion about next steps.”
Maybe if you had money to burn, buying such a piece might appeal to you.
It’d be nice to have that kind of money lying around. But I can assure you that if I ever did, I certainly wouldn’t spend it on something like that.