The Balloon Girl imagery is one that many (including myself) are familiar with. It first made an appearance as a wall mural in 2002 by Banksy, an anonymous graffiti artist based in England. He uses his work as a form of social and political commentary. Banksy has always chosen to display his work on public surfaces, and does not sell reproductions or photographs of his work.
This past weekend, a spray-painted version of the Balloon Girl was put on auction at Sotheby’s in London. As seen through footage from the auctioning event, an alarm went off and the painting began to shred itself through the frame shortly after it was auctioned off for $1.4 million.
On his own Instagram, Banksy later posted this video of the incident, adding in the caption that he had built the secret shredder into the frame in case it was ever auctioned off.
Many believe that it would be impossible for those in charge of the auction to be unsuspecting of the paintings thick canvas. Furthermore, because the painting was the last to be auctioned off (possibly to make sure that the rest of the auction went smoothly before the stunt was pulled), some believe that the auctioneers were in on the scheme.
By the words of Picasso (and Banksy): “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”