Banksy shredded his own £1.04 million artwork just after it sold at Sotheby’s

Embed from Getty Images

Banksy – or the artist conglomerate known as Banksy – is widely considered to be a political artist, an artist with “something to say.” I’ve always wondered about that – while politics can exist in a simple image, I sometimes feel like “the politics of Banksy” are more anarchistic rather than socialist (or whatever). It’s not that he wants to make some kind of overarching message about consumerism, capitalism, diplomacy or peace. It’s that he just wants chaos and he wants it to be fun.

Well, at a Sotheby’s auction on Friday night, one of Banksy’s images was up for sale. The image was Girl With Balloon, one of his most famous graffiti pieces (which he recreates). As soon as the image sold to a bidder for £1.04 million, the image began to shred in the frame (or out of the frame). As in, the frame was a built-in shredder, and someone must have been there to push a button, so the person who dropped £1.04 million on it is now the proud owner of a shredded piece of an art and ingenious frame which shreds things.

Is Sotheby’s on the hook for this? Will the bidder refuse to pay? Or is it actually worth more now? That would be my question – I think it’s actually worth more now, because you can take the strips of paper and frame them, and you hang the shredder frame and now you have two Banksy originals. As for this being described as some kind of “commentary” on how the art world is foolish or whatever…sure, maybe. But mostly I think he just did this to have fun and sow chaos.

View this post on Instagram

Going, going, gone…

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

Photos courtesy of Instagram, Getty.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

38 Responses to “Banksy shredded his own £1.04 million artwork just after it sold at Sotheby’s”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. P says:

    Just love it. Of course now its worth more than it was payed for.

  2. Melly says:

    It’s definitely worth more now. Banksy is definitely about the chaos, but weirdly enough, his art is just worth more when he does things to show the ridiculousness of the art world.

    • Malorie says:

      Which proves him right even more…

      • detta says:

        Exactly! On the news here they were like ‘ooh, did he shred it to make it worthless or did he consider it would be worth more afterwards’ and I was like, hmm, I am pretty sure he/they knew it would be worth even more in its shredded state. Complete with frame and shredder lol. Must admit I love Banksy’s art and the attitude that comes with it.

  3. abbi says:

    this is awesome!

  4. Slowsnow says:

    Having worked in commercial galleries and now working with them, I find this is very welcome. I literally said 2 days ago in a conversation how terrible auction houses are to an art consultant and she me gave the “the look”. Auction houses are responsible for the massive speculative overpricing of certain works that only very few galleries profit from, and even less artists. Each time an artist I know has an auctioned work, he fears for himself, his collectors and his gallerie(s). Banksy is not my kind of art but his influence is very welcome. A bit of anarchy (absence of leaders and not of rules just as a reminder) is profitable, especially as the art world is a very unsupervised market and professional environment. #metoo is still miles away from having a real impact for instance.

    • Tw says:

      What are your thoughts on online auction like Paddle8?

      • Slowsnow says:

        I didn’t know them but they are an auction house so participate in the speculative market. The problem with these houses is that instead of having galleries control the prices, they give to the highest bidder and turn some sales into adrenaline infused games. Moreover, they turn the art market into a show.
        However, if you buy a nice painting by a 17th century italian painter or a minimal work by Donald Judd, that’s fine because that is not where the speculation is. Auction Houses are actually quite symptomatic of how conservative a society is becoming (the answer is during crisis: very, they sell high priced paintings, paintings, paintings) but also where the attention will go next.
        Edit: big auction houses also have online auctions if that’s what you mean. You can bid from your home/office.

      • tw says:

        Thank you. I’m not in that world but have some friends and acquaintances who are, and I have always suspected what you are saying to be true.

      • Slowsnow says:

        You’re welcome @tw! It’s wonderful to work with art but its market is sometimes cruel to artists and difficult for galleries. That’s why I have a foot in academia 😉

  5. Digital Unicorn says:

    It will be worth more now – the buyer can easily sell it on for more.

  6. MellyMel says:

    I love this so much!! And it’s definitely worth more now.

  7. Miss Gloss says:

    I LOVE him so much. Hero. Granted, it is probably worth more now but I would also be pissed if people continued to profit from art that I’ve created for the people to enjoy for free. Good for him.

  8. Catherine says:

    I’m really down with this high level of subversive behavior. We need to follow his example

  9. JoJo says:

    On GMA they said the value of the painting went up $7 million dollars.

  10. knitter says:

    Absolutely brilliant! It made my day. I especially love the “Going, going, gone…” tweet!

  11. Eleonor says:

    I love him for the chaos.
    I remember when he set down in the streets od NY selling his pieces to people walking by, brilliant.

  12. Lucy says:

    He’s the best!

  13. Anne says:

    How do you mount a shredder and battery pack in a frame without the conservators and registrar at Sotheby’s noticing?

    Auction house is in on it, for sure.

    • Patty says:

      Well, he should have used a confetti shredder and then it really would have been worthless. Get it right next time Bansky, get it right. LOL. But I love what he is trying to accomplish. The art world is sort of ridiculous right now, but then again, isn’t pretty much everything.

  14. Karen says:

    Glad to see, maybe we can see what happened to the dosh now please.
    No holding breath folks, if there’s ever been a black hole for cash, it’s been the Banksy hole.

  15. shy vi says:

    Love it and now it’s worth even more I’m sure.

  16. Veronica S. says:

    I laughed, honestly. Anybody who can drop a million plus pounds on a piece of artwork will be just fine, so there’s nothing to worry about.

  17. Karen says:

    So how did ‘he’ shred the work after it had been sold unless it was sold to ‘him’?

    Thinking in segments on this one, that ‘picture’ never looked authentic, it was a franchised fee work.
    It’s been exhausting, the entire ‘Banksy’ story, for anyone interested in art and money in the age of the temptation of kitsch mass marketing, which is what the jokers and bad taste merchants we came to know as ‘Banksy’ became but there is hope clearly.

    Meanwhile, nobody who is really watchful is going to publish any of the real images that the top graffiti commentary collectives put for free, that would be too scary, political art in an age of the fear we are all encouraged to live in whilst we muse on red balloons for Valentine’s Day is off limits. Always peaceful, good graffiti commentary.

    • Ramona Q. says:

      He must have had a plant in the audience who activated the shredder by remote once it sold to a real buyer and who took the video. Maybe multiple plants to take different video angles: the shredding, the auctioneer, people’s reactions.

  18. aneflex says:

    Art is so ridiculously insane.

  19. moo says:

    Do we know Banksy is a man? Hands look feminine in the video.

  20. BeanieBean says:

    I’d hang it as is, half shredded, half not.

  21. ChillyWilly says:

    I love it!! very original. And chaotic.

  22. Clare says:

    I find it hard to believe the auction house wasn’t in on it. I mean, surely they will have closely examined the piece (including the frame) during the authentication process? Either someone dropped the ball, not spotting the shredder in the frame (seriously, how do you miss bits of metal scewing the weight of the frame, even if you didnt x-ray during authentication?), or the auction house were in on it.

    Doesn’t take away from the genius of the ‘art’ though – this is some fantastic performance art, if nothing else.

  23. Hazelhollyhock says:

    Right as the auctioneer slams that gavel down you see his right hand reach down as if he’s hitting a button or an alarm. He’s the one who executes the shredding. Totally in on it.

    • Lex says:

      They also roughly pulled the picture off the wall and there were people all around. Shouldn’t valuable art be a bit further from the crowd? I.e. on a stage or behind a rope?!?

      I think the half shredded looks great though and it’s a fun piece of performance art

  24. Rescue Cat says:

    My heart sank when I saw Banksy’s worked getting flogged off to some rich asshole, so I was delighted by the shredding.

    If you want see how bogus the art world is check out the Adam Ruins Everything episode on it.

  25. Lilly says:

    I follow Banksy on IG and when I saw that post, with the building of the shredder, I laughed from pure joy seeing it happen. No matter the analysis after the fact, that’s my moment forever.

  26. phlyfiremama says:

    Love it. I wish there was more video of the people around it’s faces while it was shredding!! LOL