There are few fields where familiarity breeds contempt with as fertile a speed as art; if you need a quick primer on that point, look no further than the career of Banksy. Over the last 20 years, the British street artist has gone from outsider prankster to art world institution, prompting an increasingly weary series of sighs of “Oh, the kid’s gun shoots crayons” or “Oh, it’s like a shitty Disneyland”s along the way. Still, sometimes people surprise you.
Surprise a whole auction house of people, in fact, as Banksy did to a crowd of fancy art world buyers at London’s Southeby’s yesterday. Reportedly, the auctioneers had just sold off the biggest prize of the day’s treasures—a print of Banksy’s iconic Girl With Balloon, in a case designed by the man(?) himself—when an alarm began to ring. Then, a hidden shredder in the case promptly began sucking in the painting—which had just sold for more than a million dollars—and cut it into ribbons. Which is, we have to admit, extremely fucking hilarious.
Of course, the most depressing fact of Banksy’s war on organized art is that he can never actually win, because whatever he does, it’s still going to be some kind of salable commodity. Indeed, people are already speculating that Sotheby’s may go forward with the sale, despite its usual policy on art damaged in its care, on the grounds that the “destroyed” piece is now almost certain to increase in value thanks to part of being such a perfect, million-dollar troll.