Banksy has been a well-known street artist for the past several years. While his true identity has never been confirmed, he has made his make in the artwork with powerful political and artistic statements. His artwork is typically displayed as street art and has been displayed in several exhibits across the world.
Around three years ago, in October of 2018, Banksy had a piece of artwork titled Girl with Balloon in the Sotheby auction house in London. This piece of artwork sold for about 1.4 million dollars however, as the gavel dropped signaling the sale of the piece of artwork, it began to be shredded through the bottom of the picture frame the piece was encased in.
The logistics surrounding the event all fell into line in order for this shredding to flow smoothly. Unlike other pieces of artwork that were up for the auction, Banksy’s piece was hung on the wall and the other pieces were placed on a podium for display. Girl with Balloon was also the final piece of artwork to be auctioned off on that night ensuring there would be not disruptions for any pieces being sold after this one.
In a video released by Banksy after the event, it shows how he made the shredded artwork and the frame that did the shredding. Banksy first painted this piece in 2006 but later added the addition of the shredding device to the large frame. In the video Banksy posted, it was explained that the artwork was meant to be completely shredded, however, at the auction house it was only half shredded. He also posted twice on Instagram regarding the incident, the first post showing the artwork shredded and the second post explaining that the piece really was shredded and the auction house was not in on what he had planned.
The intended purpose or message for this stunt by Banksy has mixed perspectives. Some argue that the work is a political statement regarding capitalism while others argue that it was a self-promotion publicity stunt. Even though Girl with Balloon was shredded it was not completely destroyed. However, the spectacle that the shredding of this piece drew, raised the value of the artwork especially with only half of the piece being shredded.