Art should be for art’s sake, not to make money. Or that’s what UK-based street artist Banksy believes anyway.
In what might be the most ridiculous and over-the-top stunt ever pulled in the art world, a Banksy piece self-destructed right in front of an audience of would-be buyers, reported TechCrunch.
Banksy is an anonymous artist known for his street art and political activism. His satirical street art combine dark humour with graffiti.
A framed canvas version of Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was set to be auctioned at Sothebys in London. As the auction came to a close with a final bid of £860,000 (a little over $1.1 million), the print’s frame began… beeping. Then, whirring. Seconds later, the canvas slid through the bottom of the frame, now almost entirely shredded.
So Banksy put a video on Instagram and deleted it almost immediately about the whole shredder in the painting. I screen recorded it for anyone who missed it! pic.twitter.com/uryPvP21ge
— Zoe Smith (@zoelouisesmithx) October 6, 2018
The anonymous artist has been vocal of his dislike of art galleries reselling their works, down to creating a piece featuring an audience of bidders battling over a print that reads, simply, “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit”. This seems to be Banksy’s latest way of expressing their discontent.
Of course, it’s easy to argue that the whole thing makes the piece even more desirable, because, well… art. If people with mountains of cash are buying art to have a ridiculously rare conversation piece that they hope others recognize, this one just rocketed up the list. It’s now that piece. Or technically those pieces, I guess.
Curiously, the canvas didn’t make it all the way through the shredder — did it jam, or was that intentional? By leaving about 1/3 of the print in the frame, the shredded bits are left attached and dangling… thus preventing them from splitting the pile of shreds into 50 more auctions with everyone vying for a slice.
Banksy shared a video on his Instagram account showing him making the frame with an inbuilt shredder. In the same video, it’s claimed that this was all done “a few years ago”. It appears that the “shredder” is a series of X-acto style blades which the canvas was raked over.
The Sotheby’s listing for the piece notes that it was “Authenticated by Pest Control”. Pest Control is Banksy’s “handling service”, which will go out to verify supposed Banksy pieces to try to make sure no one drops a pile of cash on a one-of-a-kind Borksy. Perhaps part of the verification process involved double checking everything within the frame.