At first glance it looks like our plucky artist-as-vigilante-hero puts one over on the avaricious art world.
Banksy auction stunt leaves art world in shreds
Banksy has played what could be one of the most audacious stunts in art history, arranging for one of his best-known works to self-destruct after being sold at auction for just over £1m. […] Shortly after the hammer came down on the item, however, the canvas began to pass through a shredder installed in the frame.
But this comment further down the article from the founder of MyArtBroker.com puts a different spin on it.
“The auction result will only propel this further and given the media attention this stunt has received, the lucky buyer would see a great return on the £1.02m they paid last night.
“This is now part of art history in its shredded state and we’d estimate Banksy has added at a minimum 50% to its value, possibly as high as being worth £2m plus.”
The house always wins.
Update 12/10/2018: I enjoyed reading this exploration into what Banksy and Sotherby’s were up to.
Myth busting Banksy
I believe that while Sotheby’s was likely not fully aware of what was going to happen, they had a suspicion that something was up and played along for the sake of theater. To minimize the disruption, they put the Banksy work last, but until the shredded work scrolled out the bottom of the frame, the exact nature of the prank was not clear to them. I suspect that Sotheby’s knowledge was limited to knowing something harmless was up that potentially could benefit them as a PR stunt.
It would be analogous to Banksy holding a giant sign with tape on it and Sotheby’s noticing this and graciously winking and turning around so it could be placed on their back. Sotheby’s then acted surprised when others pointed out that the sign read “kick me” and claimed to have been “Banksy’d” and then soaked up the press.
And this raised a smile too.
Please don’t shred your own Banksy print unless you want it to be worth £1
Unfortunately, this is a warning that has already been given but apparently ignored. On October 6th, online art auction platform MyArtBroker tweeted it had “a number of #Banksy print owners contact us today asking if they shred their artwork will it be worth more.” Two days later MyArtBroker claimed someone did just that — shredded a limited edition “Girl with Balloon” print in order to try and raise the value of the work.