Only seconds after the gavel connected with the podium on October 5 — finalizing the sale at auction — a famed piece of artwork by the reclusive British artist known as Banksy self-destructed. The renowned graffiti artist had secretly installed a shredder into the frame just in case the artwork was ever sold in this manner.
Attendees looked on with a mixture of wonder and disbelief after the painting, “Girl With Balloon” — which had just sold for $1.37 million — was literally reduced to shreds.
“We’ve been Banksy-ed,” said Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, Alex Branczik, in a post-sale press conference.
The artist took credit for the stunt shortly thereafter, as he posted a video of the occurrence to Instagram and cited this quote: “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” (He attributed it to Picasso, but its origins go back to Mikhail Bakunin, a Russian philosopher and activist.)
The video details the installation of the shredder, which is said to have been remotely activated upon the sale’s finalization at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Speculation has ensued that either an associate of the mysterious artist or Banksy himself was present to activate the destructive attachment.
Banksy has seemingly taken a page out of Swiss artist Jean Tinguely’s book, as Tinguely had his “Homage to New York” go up in flames outside the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan in 1960. Banksy has notably recreated this artistic self-destruction in a more creative and lawful manner; Tinguely was subsequently fined for fire code violations.
“Girl With Balloon” first appeared as graffiti art around 2002 in London’s South Bank with the words “There Is Always Hope,” written behind the young girl portrayed in the image.
The painting has doubled in price since the iconic stunt, according to the Evening Standard, as this destructive yet creative “urge” seems only to have added to the already vast artistic value of the piece.
Acclaimed as a hulking statement against consumerism and the hoarding of art by the wealthy, the stunt has not only inspired other artists, but it has also energized the marketing strategy of some of the world’s most elite companies.
For example, check out DDB Vienna’s newest McDonald’s ad just below.
— Adweek (@Adweek) October 9, 2018
Artists everywhere are now implementing the innovative twist themselves.
And see this example, too.
Unfortunately, the inspiration didn’t bode too well for certain owners of other Banksy prints.
In an immense backfire, some people have reportedly shredded their own paintings worth tens of thousands of dollars in an attempt to double the value of their artwork.
One owner of an estimated $40,000 painting took matters into his own hands as he shredded the painting himself with a Stanley knife, MyArtBroker.com reported.
This copycat attempt at doubling the value has gone terribly wrong. The owner demanded the doubling of the value; however, the painting is now thought to be worth only a mere dollar. Yikes.
Check out this video: