The demure art world felt shockwaves over the last week as the dramatic news broke. The mysterious street artist known as Banksy made history when his painted work self-destructed minutes after being purchased for $1.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction. Immediately following the thud of the closing gavel, the audience stood in bewilderment as the painting appeared to sink through its frame into shreds of canvas.
The stealthy artist – whose real identity remains a mystery – had built a shredder into the frame years ago when the work was completed. Upon its resale at auction, the new buyers were aghast as this long-term plan was enacted. Across the globe, speculation spread. Was there a co-conspirator? How was the shredder triggered? How did the batteries last? Why didn’t Sotheby’s sniff out the plot in advance? The stunt captured headlines and imaginations from Boston to Bangkok, while millions of people learned the name of this prolific and mischievous artist.
The art world had been Banksy’d.
While a normal buyer would be disappointed after a new purchase self-destructed, the new owners in this case hit pay dirt. Immediately elevated to Banky’s most famous work, the half-shredded painting has likely tripled in value according to experts in the field. Meanwhile, the enigmatic artist has achieved legendary status, creating rabid demand for any of his works.
Brilliant. By doing the unthinkable, Banksy achieved the unimaginable. His creative act of destruction actually created incredible value, elevating the myth and drama of his work and his brand.
A new verb – to “Banksy” – can be a powerful driver of our own businesses. If pulling a Banksy is an activity that helps you stand out from the competitive pack and propels your work to legendary status, what would such a move look like for you? Your Banksy need not be a PR stunt or destroying your own work product. In fact, it could be any creative leap that breaks the mold. A strategy that’s so bold and proactive, it can’t be ignored. An act that begins a remarkable conversation.
With competitive forces, geo-political turmoil, and raging shifts in technology, it’s easy to find ourselves feeling lost or overwhelmed. These are the ideal moments to Banksy our way to success. Doubling down on our creative gifts in order to create a tsunami of interest and intrigue among those we serve. Banksy’s imaginative act will be remembered for decades for shaking up his industry and launching him into the pantheon of greatness.
It’s time to make your own history. What will your Bansky be?