Banksy is the Real Deal

Hyperallergic: A Banksy artwork “self-destructed” at a Friday night Sotheby’s auction in London.

“Girl with a Balloon” (2006) was the final lot of the evening sale at Sotheby’s and ended things off with an impressive final price of £953,829…

Robert Casterline of Casterline Goodman gallery was in attendance and told Hyperallergic what happened next. He explained there was “complete confusion” and an “alarm inside the frame started going off as the gavel went down.”

“[It] sold for over a million dollars and as we sat there…the painting started moving,” he said, and added that the painting’s frame, also made by Banksy, acted as a shredder and started to cut the canvas into strips. “[It was] all out confusion then complete excitement,” he explained.

Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper spoke to Alex Branczik, the auction house’s head of contemporary art for Europe,  who seemed as surprised as anyone.

Banksy is a genius.


So, did Sotheby’s refund his money?

You think it's worth *less* now?

You’ve got a point. I guess I don’t understand fine art.

@Rich Berger - not only do you not understand fine art, you don't get *very fine* art. Dada dumb.

Bonus trivia: the Dadaists around 100 years ago made art that was deliberately designed to fall apart a few years later. And the Dada artist Duchamp gave up art in his prime to play chess. That's sm-art!

Still more bonus trivia: Albert Speer - "the Nazi who said sorry" - was a full time architect who, when he was not plotting Hitler's assassination, conceived the theory of "ruin value" or art that would leave aesthetically pleasing ruins after it was done.

Speer plotted to assassinate Hitler?

Dadaism punches back against "passivity and docility and....'a perpetual war with an avowed purpose of never making peace.” (Reverend David Rice_
“Yea, (ray) the jealous ones among us will perhaps use more abject subtlety by affirming that this work is not worth perusing, that we are well situated, and there is no use in trying to better our condition, for we cannot.” - David Walker

I like this website so much, saved to fav.

Speer plotted to assassinate Hitler?

Amazing what you can "learn". huh?

Well, Hitler was a genius. Being a genius needn't be all it's cracked up to be.

Still, Banksy has never invaded Poland. Yet.

Hitler was also an artist, who ended up destroying thing.....and his body was never found.....Banksy is six letters, Hitler is six letters....

But is he a very stable genius? Donald has six letters....

They both support the total destruction of the Jewish people. Banksy supports Hamas, whose goal is to "wipe Israel from the map".

It was cute and funny, but is it really genius? It’s not as funny as Airplane. You can probably find pranks just as amusing on YouTube

Genius is doing something nobody else would consider or be able to do.

It would have been genius if it actually shredded the painting whole. The half measure is just cute and funny.

I agree with this... The truly audacious thing would to leave just a pile of Ash.

But I appreciate the long time lapse between when the prank was conceived, and when it was executed.

I have no confirmation, but as far as I understand, that was the intention. It's just an old machine that kinda broke in the middle of the required action.

And.... nobody questioned why the painting had to be plugged in, or weighed ten more pounds than necessary, eh?

There is a prank here, all right, but it's by the auctioneers... on you.

A battery would more than suffice for a single shred and frames are pretty heavy already, the battery + shredding innards wouldn't add anything.

A remote control shredder is very feasible.

The auction house bought the painting in 2006. A normal battery wouldn't last 12 years.
Someone in the staff must have known, to place a new battery..

Yeah. Someone knew. And someone had the remote which triggered it too.

If it was Banksy himself in the back wearing sunglasses and a fedora and trenchcoat I would worship him as a minor god.

Maybe Banksy bought his own painting because he was tired of waiting.

Donald Trump, the TV media street artist,

Made a picture of the Republican Party

To look like himself


It self-destructed too.

Hurts, doesn’t it?

We all hurt, particularly those who were Republicans.

It particularly hurts former Republicans. By the way, you may want to read this Knight Foundation report on Russian disinformation postings which show that conservative, and hard conservative fake sites were responsible for most fabricated and fake news. Here is the link:

Couldn't get by without a little help from his friends.

What was in your Twitterfeed?

What sort of moron gets his news from Twitter?

Should be grounds for permanent disenfranchisement.

Leave them alone, Rich.

They choked away the most winnable presidential election in US history; they've entirely lost the Supreme Court; and now they can't even read a post about a PR stunt by an art auction firm without whining about President Donald J. Trump.

They could not be any sadder; let them suffer in peace.

You obsess too much over the Dems. Look at what Trump and the GOP are doing to the country. Healthcare premiums are now $20K per person now under Trumpcare. Prices everywhere going up. Trump/Pence may push us to another war. Farm Belt states get another bailout. But hey if you want to spend time worrying about the color of Hillary's pantsuit, you're missing the big picture.

You are wasting pixels. For dopes like these, politics is a sport. Some people follow the Dallas Cowboys or Boston Celtics, these guys just root for Team Red and do end zone dances when their team wins something.

Perhaps, but it seems the Democratic Party is becoming the party of the militant campus student Union. And in ways we can hardly be proud of. Which is worse for our nation?

If it is a party of militant campus student union members why is there support higher than Republican support? Here is polling data over time:

Because people like militant campus student union members?

Having Bush era neocon failures like Kavanaugh on the court makes me pine for militant college students.

Don't forget toddlers. We got to see lots of protesting toddlers today, screaming their heads off

Look at Oloy above: '.Banksy is six letters, Hitler is six letters...'

Kavanagh was almost denied SCOTUS on less evidence.

He could have been denied SCOTUS for any reason. Or no reason at all. He was not on trial and a SCOTUS appt is not a right.


True, certainly not a right, but it was his basically if not for this.

Only because the Senate allowed a hearing and a vote to take place. For a change.

Well....SCOTUS is also 6 letters.
Don't forget the 666 of Ronald Wilson Reagan

Thank goodness my 6 letter posting name has no vowels!

Lotta six letter names, it's pretty common: Stalin, Disney, Prince, Barack, Cheney, Engels, Keynes, Kudlow...

The "genius" is that the stunt exposed the absurdity of the art market. What is the value of art? The price may be determined in a market, the art market, but does that price reflect the actual value of the art? People buy expensive art because of the expectation that someone will pay a higher price later. One can say the same for most any market, such as the market in housing. Even the market in stocks has lost its way, with prices based on the expectation of rising (or falling) prices rather than fundamentals. There's a reason why hedge and other funds are replacing analysts with computer engineers and quants. I'm surprised that Tabarrok would think Bansky a genius for exposing the absurdity of markets. To paraphrase history's most famous writer, I come to bury markets, not to praise markets.

“People buy expensive art because of the expectation that someone will pay a higher price later.“

What percentage of art purchases belong in this category? Hmm? Just google (or think a little) before you post.

Some people buy houses, or stocks, because of the expectation that someone will pay a higher price later. Snormal.


isn't a significant part of the art market involved
with money laundering?

Same reason somebody would pay 1 million for expensive alchohol.

good point

Cutting Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in thousands of small-certified pieces and thereby allow many much less wealthy to buy these, it could perhaps fetch much more than US$ 450 million. Should we proceed to hack up Salvator Mundi?

Bingo! I missed it. Bansky is a genius (according to Tabarrok) not for exposing the absurdity of the art market, but the absurdity of progressive income taxes (or any measure designed to promote equality by breaking up (shredding) wealth). Or stated another way, the whole is more valuable than the sum of its parts. Cowen's blog post this morning prompted me to read a little about GMU Law School, which I learned (or maybe already knew) is now the center of the law and economics movement (thanks to Henry Manne, who was a student of Coase). In that world, anti-monopoly (shredding) is anti-prosperity. My apologies to Tabarrok.

You may want to read about Dean Manne, where he was before coming to the GMU Law School, and why he stepped down as dean. We discussed him before he arrived, wondering how the PR dept. would deal with a repeat of (not exactly whispered) reason for him to leave where he was.

Let's just say that if Dean Manne was at the auction, you just might wonder how the trip was funded - 'Legal Times investigates the resignation of Henry Manne, a renowned law and economics scholar, from his post as dean of George Mason University School of Law. After ten years of service, Manne stepped down with faculty and administrators publicly applauding his legacy. Legal Times learned that Manne's resignation came amid serious questions about his spending habits. Members of the law faculty had called for Manne's ouster after discovering that he had taken lavish trips at the expense of the Law and Economics Center, a privately-funded think tank affiliated with the university. (October 28, 1996)'

This was not a suprise to anyone working in the GMU PR dept in 1986, it was merely the timing that was not predictable.

More predictable is how well scrubbed such events are two decades latter, even while holding up Manne as a man who has no problem with insider trader - which some might also consider self dealing from a larger perspective.

A lot of the leading lights do not actually hold up to scrutiny, which is why they tend to avoid scrutiny as much as possible.

Which in connection with Banksy is at least ironically amusing.

Is there such a thing as a blind art test, to test whether art "experts" are able to distinguish between great art and "generic" art when the artists' identities are kept hidden and the work is not widely recognized? I am thinking of blind wine tasting tests or the old Folgers commercials, where customers are shown preferring Folgers over fine coffee. Has there been a Sokal hoax for art?

The last one.

It's funny. Maybe the joke is a little bit easy to conceive, but good on him for actually doing it.

In the end I don't think any money will change hands and everybody will be amused. I would think if the shredded painting went up for re-auction it would go for significantly less. But who knows?

Surely surely it would go for more. It's the only banksy self shedding picture in the world!

If it does, then he should make another identical looking painting and frame. It should not shred at the auction, leaving open the question will it shred?

How about a timer? Set at a random time somewhere from 5 years to 50 years in the future. Will the price rise or drop as time goes on?

Very clever and on brand.

I find it somewhat depressing that such a silly stunt is getting so much press when there are people doing amazing art which is largely unnoticed.

Bansky used to be provocative but is now clearly part of the world he aimed to satirize.

So for roughly $1 million I can buy a self-destructed drawing, one bottle of Scotch whisky, or a Scottish castle?

Always go for the castle!

Banksy at Sotheby's? 10 years ago it would have been absurd. Maybe in 10 years time it will be outdated. I wouldn't put a single penny in modern art (post World War 2). Not because the market is too unpredictable, but because by the looks of it even Banksy thins these pieces do not belong in an art collection. And I think Banksy is very much right, because his generation of artists (and the previous generation, including the likes of Warhol, Basquiat, Pollock, etc.) lack any sense of aesthatics or skill in art. They have a message, but they are not artists. Sure, everyone is happy to take a multi-thousand dollar cheque for his work, but their mission is to deliver their message, not to create art.
So listen to them instead of collecting their paintings, they aren't worth shit anyways. But congratulations to the gentleman/lady who tried to buy a picture of a child reaching for a balloon for 1+ million dollar, now you got a shredded picture of a child reaching for a balloon for the same price.

"There is nothing sadder than an indoor cat that thinks it is an outdoor cat"

Discussing drawing skills: Bill Watterston (the Hobbes guy) handles his horizons way better than Banksy, and Schulz and Lynn Johnston were better at indicating what the person being drawn was looking at, in context - not so easy to do, Banksy always subtly shuffles that particular artistic problem to the side

Maybe he is honest, and maybe he wants to be a real artist, but knows how hard it is . Hence his self-deprecating manner

Plus, to be fair, either you can throw the baseball a hundred miles an hour or you can't, there are some skills that are not teachable ... there was a guy who worked on the police force and used to send in maybe ten gags a year to Johnny Carson, if Carson bought every gag he only used one every couple of years, and bought them all because he didn't want anyone else buying them

then there are people who specialize in making crabby people laugh

there is no money in that, though

when the guy retired from the police force he stopped sending in the gags and golfed 5 times a week

the youngest of his partners, now in his 80s, is a short gentleman who never hits the ball more than 160 yards but always hits it right down the fairway

asked if he practices sand bunker shots he answers why should I I never hit the ball into the bunker

of course, one kind of cat thinking it is another kind of cat is not sad at all

cats can dream of being some other cat without evoking pity, as can people

because we are all God's children

which is a good thing

Well my first thought is that the buyer now knows what the little girl in the painting felt like watching her heart float away--unless the buyer found this a thrilling experience. Regardless, I'm not sure I'd pay a million pounds for that experience, so I'll be curious to see if Banksy's work goes up or down in the short term. (I'd expect it to rise in the long term.) Also, I like this stunt better than the stories of Picasso signing his name on menus to pay for his supper. And who was the guy who signed his name on a shovel from home hardware?

I can't help myself. "Keep your eyes open for a good ear":

I smell a rat.
How was it triggered? A bluetooth reciever? With a compouter chip listening for it to wake up for 11 years?
And the batteries? No way that you could just pop a couple AA batteries in there and leave them to sit for 11 years.
Someone had to have put fresh batteries in before the auction.


You use a one-use thermal battery to give power and long-storage performance, but I'm not sure how it was triggered. I would have said local Bluetooth too, but the Bluetooth transceiver would also require continuous power of a few watts, which might drain AA batteries over that timescale...a larger alkaline battery might do it though.

Alkaline batteries get old and corrode. Doesn't matter if they have enough charge. I have plenty of old flashlights with ancient corroded AA batteries in them.
The one object I own that still works after almost 30 years - is an old TI-35 solar powered calculator. It doesn't have batteries.

Now that's a thought. Maybe there's a solar strip hidden on top of the frame.

"...we'd estimate Banksy has added at a minimum 50% to its value..."

Banksy is creative, amusing, and he's good with his hands.

Banksy is fine. Whatever. Like most modern artists it’s less about the art itself and more about the marketing of the artist themself, which is what has always bugged me about the collusion of the press to maintain his anonymity.

I get the sense that anybody who is anybody in the art and media worlds knows exactly who the guy is, so why does this guy get special treatment?

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