One of Banksy’s best known works of art ended up being a prank. Banksy’s Girl With Balloon stencil at Sotheby’s in London just sold for a whopping $1.4 million before the artwork started making mysterious noises, grabbing the attention of all who gathered in the room. Then, the unbelievable happened; the art began shredding through a built in shredder in the frame, ultimately destroying the artwork before the winning bidder had a chance to take it home. The result of the prank left a portion of the artwork in shreds, dangling below the frame. However, the rest of it remained intact, still inside the frame.
Two Sotheby’s officials quickly intervened to remove the piece from the wall as the rest of the crowd realized this was exactly how Banksy planned to end the auction. However, the person behind the prank is still unknown and it’s unclear if anyone at the auction was in on the prank.
Banksy’s identity is yet to be revealed and he’s continued to remain anonymous. Although, he later posted a video to his YouTube channel, offering an explanation for his latest artwork prank.
“A few years ago I secretly put a shredder into a painting in case it was ever put up for auction,” Banksy says. Clips emerged of the shredder being installed into the frame, as well as footage of the surprising moment Girl With Balloon begins to pass through the shredder.
“In a moment that caught everyone in the room by surprise, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon self-destructed just as the final hammer signaled the end of an evening of auctions in London,” Sotheby’s wrote in a post on its website. “The work sold for 1,042,000 British pounds ($1.4 million), tying the artist’s record in pounds at auction previously achieved in 2008.” Sotheby’s added the unexpected prank “certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer.”
It is unclear if the person who bid $1.4 million for Girl With Balloon still wants it, however, speculation that the shredding stunt was Banksy’s doing, makes it possible that the artwork could be worth even more than previously sold for.