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When it comes to high art, Banksy might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, you might think of Picasso, Monet, and all those new and experimental artists that are making waves. What you might not think of is the political protester, graffiti enthusiast street artist that is Banksy. In some ways, the ‘high art’ scene goes against everything Banksy stands for. But as a successful artist who expects his works to sell at auction, it’s also exactly where he expects to be. Which is perfect, because otherwise he wouldn’t be able to pull off his latest surprising stunt.


Earlier this month, the iconic Banksy painting “Girl with Red Balloon” appeared at Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest brokers of decorative art, jewellery, real estate and collectibles, as the last lot in the auction. This is itself isn’t a surprise – it was a genuine Banksy and worth a fortune. What didn’t come as any surprise however, is the interest that was generated in this amazing painting. When the time came for the auction, the painting (which is recognised the entire world over) sold for a rather staggering £860,000. But while this was expected given the popularity of the painting, absolutely no-one, in the room or throughout the world, could quite believe what happened next.


As the hammer came down and the painting sold, an alarm began to sound. People started to look around d, trying to pinpoint where is was coming from. And within seconds, the painting, that had just been sold for £860,000, began to shred itself. Stopping halfway, the alarmed crowd thought the painting was ruined, and the sale voided.
There was mass confusion in the room, with many people filming it, muttering in shock. However, one person who it is believed was in the room filming, and was less than shocked about what had happened, was the man himself. The reason the painting shredded, was all down to Banksy, but how did he pull off one of the best pranks of the year?


How Did Banksy Do It?

Amazing, and a tad confusing, but how did Banksy do it – and more importantly, why? Not long after the news broke about this epic Banksy prank, the man himself released a video that told the story of his plans for the painting. When he was creating the panting, he secretly built a shredder into the frame, thinking that at some point the picture would be put up for auction and sold for a silly amount of money. Many artists tell security that they cannot search the frames when they enter an auction house as this is a key part of the work, so Banksy knew that his hidden shredding device would go undetected. There was a decoy in the room, ready to hit the ‘shred’ button when the gavel went down. Although, there are also ideas and theories that Sotheby’s knew all about this plan, and that they saw it is a promotional tool for their business. But that part might remain a mystery.


What Does This Mean For The Painting?

We don’t exactly know why Banksy decided to fit the shredder to the frame of the painting, and we probably never will. But what we do know is that it was planned in years ago, with no real idea of when the big moment would happen. It could have been a protest against this part of the art world, or maybe Banksy thought it would void the sale and protect the things that he stands for. Unfortunately, if this was the reasoning behind it, it seems that it may have backfired, rather than ruining the painting, it is thought that the shredding has made it more valuable, even upping it to double the amount that the original sale was made it. Which means that the person who bought it is still more than happy to pay the huge amount of money to own it and has decided to keep it.


Or maybe, was this his plan all along? With the secrecy that surrounds Banksy, we are never going to know exactly what he was thinking. However, we do love the fact that it has highlighted that shredding can be creative, and can be cool too. We also love the fact that it’s brought shredding into the public eye, and made many people more aware of shredders as a tool.