Banksy is well and truly the maverick of the art scene as he once again proved yesterday.
As his iconic stencil spray painting ‘Girl with Balloon’ was auctioned off for a whopping $1.1 million (£838,418), it self-destructed leaving it dangling in ribbons from the frame.
We think Banksy has been watching too many Mission: Impossible films.
As people watched one of the artist’s most famous works go under the hammer at Sotheby’s Auction House in London yesterday (October 5), they were shocked when it suddenly went through a shredder concealed within the frame.
Banksy had clearly saved his best work until last with the painting of the girl reaching out towards a heart-shaped balloon being the last item sold at the auction.
Sharing a photo of the moment on Instagram, Banksy accompanied it with the caption ‘going, going, gone’ which couldn’t be more accurate!
Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe, was taken aback but not surprised by the twist admitting ‘it appears we just got Banksy-ed’.
He told The Art Newspaper:
He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius.
The shredding is now part of the integral artwork. We have not experienced a situation where a painting has spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist.
Well Banksy always is full of surprises!
It is not yet clear whether the shredding has added value to the painting, although we can all agree it certainly adds further character.
The street artist has a long history of making anti-establishment statements including offering voters a free print during the 2017 general election if they cast a ballot against the Conservative candidates standing in the Bristol North West, Bristol West, North Somerset, Thornbury, Kingswood and Filton constituencies.
Being no stranger to controversy, Banksy has famously kept his identity hidden from the public starting an unanswerable debate regarding who is under the hoodie.
Of course people have their theories but with nothing ever being officially confirmed, Banksy just becomes increasingly enigmatic and intriguing.
DJ and actor Goldie though may have given us a clue dropping the name ‘Robert’ into a conversation about Bansky.
Appearing on Scroobius Pip’s weekly podcast Distraction Pieces, Goldie, who also rose to fame as a street artist criticised Banksy for mass producing his work for sale.
Give me a bubble letter and put it on a T-shirt and write ‘Banksy’ on it and we’re sorted. We can sell it now.
No disrespect to Robert, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over.
Realising he had made a mistake, Goldie quickly changed the subject but the beans had already been spilt.
But who is ‘Robert’?
For years the rumour that Banksy is Robert Del Naja has been rife, a British artist and musician aka 3D, best known for being a founding member of Massive Attack.
Del Naja and Goldie have been in same circles for years having both worked as street graffiti artists in the 1980s.
Banksy murals have popped up in locations where Massive Attack have played and with Del Naja’s history you do have to question whether it really is a coincidence.
But because this is Banksy, it is likely we will never know the truth.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.