In October 2018, one of Banksy's works, Balloon Girl, was sold in an auction at Sotheby's in London for £1.04m. However, shortly after the gavel dropped and it was sold, an alarm sounded inside of the picture frame and the canvas passed through a shredder hidden within the frame, partially shredding the picture.[134] Banksy then posted an image of the shredding on Instagram captioned "Going, going, gone...".[135] After the sale, the auction house acknowledged that the self-destruction of the work was a prank by the artist.[136] The prank received wide news coverage around the world, with one newspaper stating that it was "quite possibly the biggest prank in art history."[134] Joey Syer, co-founder of an online platform facilitating art dealer sales,[137] told the Evening Standard: "The auction result will only propel this further and given the media attention this stunt has received, the lucky buyer would see a great return on the £1.02M they paid last night, this is now part of art history in its shredded state and we'd estimate Banksy has added at a minimum 50% to its value, possibly as high as being worth £2m+."[138] A man seen filming the shredding of the picture during its auction has been suggested to be Banksy.[139][140] Banksy has since released a video on how the shredder was installed into the frame and the shredding of the picture, explaining that he had surreptitiously fitted the painting with the shredder a few years previously, in case it ever went up for auction. To explain his rationale for destroying his own artwork, Banksy quoted Picasso: "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge".[141][142] (Although Banksy cited Picasso, this quote is usually attributed to Mikhail Bakunin.) [143] It is not known how the shredder was activated.[144] Banksy has released another video indicating that the painting was intended to be shredded completely. The video shows a sample painting completely shredded by the frame and says: "In rehearsals it worked every time...".[145]
In April 2014, he created a piece in Cheltenham, near the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) headquarters, which depicts three men wearing sunglasses and using listening devices to "snoop" on a telephone box, evidently criticising the recent Global surveillance disclosures of 2013. This was only confirmed by Banksy as his work later in June 2014.[179] This piece 'disappeared' on 20 August 2016 during renovations to the building it was on, and may have been destroyed.[180]
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