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Artist Banksy plays a million-dollar prank

Monday, October 08, 2018

And now a bit of news from the affluent West where public relations and pranks can often be worth millions of dollars for the eyeballs (and discussion) they garner. Associated Press (AP) reports that an artwork by the elusive street artist, Banksy, self-destructed in front of startled auction-goers last Friday in London, moments after being sold for 1.04 million pounds ($1.4 million). In an Instagram post Saturday, the artist Banksy claimed he had planned the move for years. The spray-painted canvas “Girl With Balloon” was sold at Sotheby’s in London, fetching more than three times its pre-sale estimate and equalling a record price for the artist. Then, as an alarm sounded, it ran through a shredder embedded in the frame, leaving half the canvas hanging from the bottom in strips. A post on Banksy’s official Instagram account showed the moment — and the shocked reaction of those in the room — with the words “Going, going, gone...” A video was later posted on the account, stating: “A few years ago I secretly built a shredder into a painting in case it was ever put up for auction.” The video showed images of a shredder being embedded into a picture frame along with footage of Friday’s auction finale. Sotheby’s — which had noted before the sale that the work’s ornate gilded frame was “an integral element of the artwork chosen by Banksy himself” — appeared as shocked as anyone else. “It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik from the auction house. Sotheby’s said it was “in discussion about next steps” with the undisclosed buyer of the painting. Some art-market watchers are of the opinion that the work could be worth even more in its shredded state. “We have not experienced this situation in the past and are figuring out what this means in an auction context,” Branczik said. 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.” Say we – Banksy is sure to go down in art history books!

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