Whoever purchased an iconic Banksy painting for $1.4 million on Friday was left with a pile of shredded paper.
Moments after the gavel came down on the sale of the enigmatic artist’s “Girl With Balloon” painting at Sotheby’s auction house in London, the painting passed through a shredder that had apparently been hidden in the frame.
The artwork, spray paint and acrylic on canvas, showed one of the artist’s most well-known images ― a young girl reaching her hand towards a red, heart-shaped balloon.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director, said in a press release from the auction house.
Banksy posted a photo of the shocking moment on Instagram, captioning the image, “Going, going, gone…”
It’s unclear exactly how Banksy, the world-famous artist whose identity is still a mystery, pulled it off.
Branczik maintains that he was not “in on the ruse” and speculated that the shredder may have somehow been triggered by Banksy if the artist was attending the auction incognito, according to Vice.
While the moment would likely be a disappointment if the buyer was planning to display the painting, The Guardian noted that the historic stunt could potentially have increased the artwork’s value. As Sotheby’s noted, the incident “certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer.”