Girl With Balloon by Banksy
[Photo by: Banksy]

Ever wonder what it’s like to shred $1.4 million dollars? One unfortunate art lover may have done just that after purchasing a Banksy piece at auction for that large lump sum, only to have the painting self-destruct moments after winning the bid war.

No, we’re not joking.

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Banksy may have just pulled the greatest, or at least most expensive, prank of all time after one of his most iconic paintings hit the auction block Friday night.

A copy of his work “Girl With Balloon” was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in London with the winning bid coming in at an astounding $1.4 million dollars—a bid tying Banksy’s record at auction originally achieved in 2008.

However, moments after the bid was placed an alarm sounded and the artwork “began to pass through a shredder hidden in the frame,” according to Sotheby.

“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” says Alex Branczik, Senior Director and Head of Contemporary Art, Europe.

Banksy took to Instagram to post a photo of the prank with the caption “Going, going, gone…”

View this post on Instagram

Going, going, gone…

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

OK, we have to admit, this is pretty funny.

Banksy posted a video showing how he installed the shredder into the artwork’s frame, but quickly deleted it from Instagram. One fan screen-recorded the video which you can view below.

Sotheby have not revealed the identity of the buyer but did release a statement to the Financial Times in regards to the prank and the purchaser.

“We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprised by the story. We are in discussion about next steps.”

Feeling bad for the unfortunate art-lover who shredded $1.4 million? Don’t worry, Sotheby stated the prank “became instant art world history and certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer.”

So what does this mean? One art insider believes the shredding may have actually increased the painting’s value.

“Given the media attention this stunt has received, the lucky buyer would see a great return on the [$1.4 million] they paid last night,” says MyArtBroker’s Joey Syer.

“This is now part of art history in its shredded state and we’d estimate Banksy has added at a minimum 50 percent to its value, possibly as high as being worth £2m plus.”

What do you think of Banksy’s very expensive prank? Sound off in the comments below!

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