Painting becomes a performance—Banksy shreds self at Sotheby’s seconds after successful sale.

Banksy - Girl With Balloon just before it shred itself.

I’m not a fan of Banksy’s art, but his works of political and social commentary thrill me. So, I’m loving the high drama that reigned at Sotheby’s London

Last night as one of Banksy’s most iconic images, Girl with Balloon, sold during their much-anticipated Contemporary Art Evening Auction. Sotheby’s salesroom was filled to capacity and countless international viewers were watching online.

Viewers were tense as the hammer dropped and the auctioneer announced that the piece had just been: SOLD!

At that moment, Banksy’s framed work—spray paint and acrylic on canvas, mounted on board depicting a girl reaching out toward a bright red, heart shaped balloon—began to be pulled through a shredder hidden in the bottom of the frame.

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s Senior Director and Head of Contemporary Art, Europe- London, said, “It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” The incident lifted a single painting to the level of full-bore performance art while becoming instant art-world history. Branczik said, “All I can say is this certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer.”

Anny Shaw, writing for The Art Newspaper, reported that, “Apparently booby-trapped and triggered by someone in the gallery, or possibly by the artist himself, several observers commented that the work’s destruction was the grandest of finales to a contemporary auction in many years.

“In apparent acknowledgement of the prank, later in the evening Banksy posted an image of his painting being shredded in front of shocked Sotheby’s staff on Instagram, with the caption ‘Going, going, gone…’ According to the provenance, Girl with a Balloon was acquired directly from the artist in 2006.”

Then, this appeared all over the internet—

Sotheby’s reports that they are in touch the buyer and they are exploring next steps. Make of it what you will.


By Stephen Brockelman

As a Sr. Writer at T. Rowe Price, I work with a group of the best copywriters around. We belong to the broader creative team within Enterprise Creative, a part of Corporate Marketing Services. _____________________________________________ A long and winding road: My path to T. Rowe Price was more twisted than Fidelity’s green line. With scholarship in hand, I left Kansas at 18 to study theatre in New York. When my soap opera paychecks stopped coming from CBS and started coming from the show’s sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, I discovered the power of advertising and switched careers. Over the years I’ve owned an ad agency in San Francisco; worked for Norman Lear on All in the Family, Good Times, Sanford and Son, and the rest of his hit shows; and as a member of Directors Guild of America, I directed Desi Arnaz in his last television appearance— we remained friends until his death. In 1988 I began freelancing full time didn’t look back. In January 2012 my rep at Boss Group called and said, “I know you don’t want to commute and writing for the financial industry isn’t high on your wish list, but I have a gig with T. Rowe Price in Owings Mills…” I was a contractor for eight months, drank the corporate Kool-Aid, became a TRP associate that August, and today I find myself smiling more often than not.

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