The faces of the people attending the art auction at Sotheby last week could only be described as “historical”. Their faces are entirely shocked by what was transpiring in front of their eyes that night. No one in that auction was prepared for what the trollish Banksy had in store for his audience: immediately after his work, Girl With a Balloon was sold for almost $1.9 million, as soon as the mallet fell with a loud knock, the frame of the painting destroyed half of the picture.
Banksy, a British artist, has been known for his graffiti and vandalism, his activism, and his trollish behavior. In 2010 he was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of that year. He started as a street performer and artist, doing vandalism and murals by the use of stencils. He eventually gained a community of fans, and art curators have recognized his art and talent. As for his trollish behavior, he was also known for lots of illegal and intricate pieces, such as Barely Legal, a live elephant he painted from head to toe using the same patters as there was to the room where his exhibit was displayed in Los Angeles, back in 2006. Having an elephant in an exhibition wasn’t illegal. Painting on it was a different story.
In 2008, he did another illegal work and vandalized a wall owned by London. It was a daring move and one of the most well-known: the “One Nation Under CCTV”. What’s ironic about this art is that the wall was supposed to be guarded by a CCTV camera, but because of how it was placed it failed to spot Banksy, who to complete the work, had to erect a scaffold. The work has since been removed.
A Trap Years in the Making
By now everyone has an idea of how trollish Banksy can be. But still, no one was prepared for what Banksy had in store for Sotheby last week. The work involves a painted version of his Girl with a Balloon, which was initially a mural in East London. He painted a copy and gave it away to someone, who saw it fit to sell it later.
Unknown to everyone else but Banksy, the artist decided to build a secret shredder hidden in the frame of the painting. Nobody knows how it was activated but during the night the painting was sold, just a few seconds after the hammer fell, the shredder was turned on and destroyed the painting’s lower half, much to the shock of everyone in the venue. The lower part was cut into strips and had to be taken away by the personnel immediately after to avoid commotion.
Sotheby has refused to release the name of the person who bought the painting for almost $1.9 million that night. Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, said: “we just got Bansky-ed”. He said that he did not know that the painting was going to be destroyed. He further commented that the whole event might have increased the value of the piece anyway.
Going, Going, Gone…
Banksy posted the image of his painting being shredded with the caption “Going, Going, Gone…” in his Instagram account. He also posted a video explaining the shredder inside the frame, but not the way the shredder activated it. Some claims that the real Banksy, whose identity is still unknown, was, in fact, present that night to turn on the shredder using a remote. But that is still just a speculation.
Most of the people in his Instagram account were congratulating the artist on a successful troll, though one is convinced that the whole thing is a set up and is fake. Either way, Banksy is most likely satisfied with the results of his work.
1st Image: Banksy installing the shredder into the frame, via Banksy’s Instagram account
2nd Image: People gasping at the sight of the piece being shredded, via Banksy’s Instagram account