A jaw-dropping prank orchestrated by the elusive graffiti artist Banksy has left the art world stunned.
On Friday, following a bidding war at Sotheby’s auction house in London, his “Girl With Balloon” image sold for a whopping $1.4 million, tying his previous auction record from 2008.
But in a shocking turn of events, the iconic work was destroyed by a shredding device located inside the frame.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director of contemporary art, said in a press release.
“I’ll be quite honest,” he added, “we have not experienced this situation the past, where a painting is spontaneously shredded upon achieving a record for the artist.”
Known for his disruptive antics, the British-born activist, summed up the incident in a post on Instagram. “Going, going, gone…” he captioned an image showing the work splitting into pieces.
According to The New York Times, the device was operated by a remote control. The publication also reports the trademark piece was purchased by an anonymous bidder through a representative who was present at the event.
Since his emergence in the ‘90s, Banksy has pulled off an array of largely controversial stunts. In 2005, he managed to leave politically charged illustrations on the highly secure West Bank Wall in Palestine. The following year, he placed an inflatable dummy of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner at Disneyland, closing down the park.
Many of his acts express a disdain for consumerism. In 2004, he famously released a screen print depicting Jesus during crucifixion with shopping bags attached to his hands instead of nails.