Banksy Makes a Splash at Sotheby's Auction of Contemporary Art in London

Banksy’s Girl with Red Balloon  mysteriously shredded itself following its sale at the Sotheby’s London auction. Image courtesy of Casterline Goodman Gallery.

Banksy’s Girl with Red Balloon mysteriously shredded itself following its sale at the Sotheby’s London auction. Image courtesy of Casterline Goodman Gallery.

Sotheby’s auctions typically make headlines for record-breaking sales—such as the recent sale of a 1962 Ferrari GTO in August at Monterrey—or for showcasing unique, one-of-a-kind collections. Most recently, the auction house garnered attention following a contemporary art auction in London, as it ended with some unexpected results courtesy of famed street-artist Banksy.

The art world was truly caught by surprise when just after the final hammer signaled the end of auctions for the evening, the famed Banksy’s Girl with Balloon self-destructed. The work had sold for $1.4 million USD, which tied the artist’s record in auction achievements earned in 2008.

The framed work is composed of spray paint and acrylic on canvas, which was mounted on a board and placed in an elaborate frame. It depicts a girl reaching for a red, heart-shaped balloon, and is by far among Banksy’s most iconic pieces. After the gavel fell, it began to fall through the bottom of the frame, shredding itself.

“It appears we just got Banksy-ed.” Alex Branczik, Senior Director and Head of Contemporary Art, Europe London.

The completely unanticipated incident went instantly viral, and marked the first time in the history of the art world that an artwork has shredded itself after selling at auction.

See the original piece at Sotheby’s and learn more about the evening’s events.