As if being anonymous wasn’t enough of a ruse, famed street artist Banksy found a new way to drum up controversy.
On Friday night, his ‘Girl with a Balloon’ painting was a was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for more than $1.2 million. However, when the auction closed, an alarm rung from the artwork and the painting began to slide downwards — into a shredder installed in the frame.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s European director of contemporary art told the Art Newspaper. “He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius.” Branczik also said he was “not in on the ruse,” which really takes it to that next level.
According to the Financial Times, the vendor selling the piece acquired “Girl with a Balloon” directly from the artist himself. Said Sotheby’s in a statement, “We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprise by the story. We are in discussion about next steps.” Several outlets have postulated that the stunt required Banksy (or an agent thereof) to be in the room to remotely activate the shredder. Reports the Art Newspaper, “a man dressed in black sporting sunglasses and a hat was seen scuffling with security guards near the entrance to Sotheby’s shortly after the incident.”
Now THAT is a good stunt.