On 18 February, BBC News reported that a recent Banksy mural, known as the Slave Labour mural portraying a young child sewing Union Flag bunting (created around the time of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II) had been removed from the side of a Poundland store in Wood Green, north London, and soon appeared for sale in Fine Art Auctions Miami's catalogue (a US auction site based in Florida). News of this has reportedly caused "lots of anger" in the local community and is considered by some to be a theft. Fine Art Auctions Miami has rejected claims of theft, saying it had signed a contract with a "well-known collector" and that "everything was above board"; despite this, the local Councillor for Wood Green is campaigning for the work's return.[105]
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]

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