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Banksy's Girl With Ballon shreds itself after being bought at a Sotheby's auction
Banksy's Girl With Ballon shreds itself after being bought at a Sotheby's auction//Instagram - @banksy

What makes you feel bad ass? Is it when you flout a safety notice, strut down the street to your favourite playlist or eat your pudding before the main course? If those moments all sound a little too tame for you, then look to Banksy’s latest move for a bit of inspiration.

The celebrated street artist and political activist Banksy is notoriously anti-establishment. He is arguably one of the most covetable living artists and yet his art to some is simply glorified graffiti. His paintings adorn city walls and buildings around the world and often appear as quickly as they go.

So, when a Banksy piece recently went up for auction as the final lot of the Contemporary Art Evening Auction of 2018 Frieze week in London, many thought it was too good to be true. Which, in the end, it turned out to be.

As the hammer fell in Sotheby’s at £1.04million sold, Banksy’s previously unseen version of ‘Girl with Balloon’ began to shred itself, much to the horror of those in the room. After shredding the bottom half of the painting, auctioneers removed it from the room. But not before a video of the incident had gone viral around the world, which had been posted on Banksy’s Instagram with the caption “’The urge to destroy is also a creative urge’ – Picasso”.

The painting, which was a spray paint on canvas, was created in 2006 and was the last, highly anticipated lot at Sotheby’s Frieze Week evening. In a now deleted video posted to his Instagram page, Banksy demonstrated how he had hidden a shredding device in the painting’s frame just in case it ever went up for auction.

What is still unclear is whether Sotheby’s were informed about the stunt before or, if not, what the legal ramifications are of this act. Arguably, this move was a phenomenally brilliant PR stunt for Banksy, only serving to increase his worth as an artist.

It was a statement against the art world. And, in its shredded form, the painting is arguably more valuable now than it ever was before.

Visit Banksy’s Instagram to see the full video.

About the author

Izzy Ashton, Assistant Editor of BITE, Creativebrief

Izzy is a writer/researcher for BITE, Creativebrief’s daily insight into global marketing trends and the cultural movements driving them. She keeps abreast of the latest communication, technology and consumer news, and is responsible for conducting interviews with key agency strategists and creatives to gain insight into the most innovative global campaigns.

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