The elusive street artist Banksy has pranked Sotheby auction-goers after one of his works self-destructed immediately after being sold for 1.04 million pounds ($1.4 million).
The spray-painted canvas "Girl With Balloon" went for more than three times its pre-sale estimate and is considered to be one of Banksy's best-known images.
When the winning bid was announced, an alarm sounded and the piece ran through a shredder embedded in the frame, coming out in strips.
The London auction house's head of contemporary European art Alex Branczik said they are in talks with the buyer as to what to do next.
"We have not experienced this situation in the past . where a painting spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist. We are busily figuring out what this means in an auction context."
AP news reports that this move is actually brilliant for the artist:
Geneva-based artist Pierre Koukjian, who was at the auction, said the buyer was “very lucky” to own a now-historic piece. He called Banksy’s prank “a turning point in the history of contemporary and conceptual art.”
Koukjian, who has met Banksy, said he is sure he caught a glimpse of the artist in the saleroom amid the confusion of the moment.
“What he did is really shocking, in a good way,” Koukjian said. “I think it will be historic and people will talk for a long time about it.”
Banksy was never a stranger to elaborate pranks...from installing pieces in museums and theme parks to building his own full-scale dystopian theme park,