Image via Sotheby’s

Banksy’s shredding of the Girl with Balloon painting might be an iconic move, but it’s also supposedly illegal and could be a call for prosecution—that is, if the artist can ever be unmasked.

Salomé Verrell, a solicitor and senior lecturer at The University of Law in UK, told the South West News Service that Banksy had committed “criminal damage” as a result of the prank.

The legal expert cited two laws that point to the elusive street artist’s supposed offense.

The first, which is the Sale of Goods Act 1979 S57(2), states that a sale by auction is confirmed when the auctioneer declares its completion “by the fall of the hammer, or in other customary manner.”

Since auction house Sotheby’s hammer went down before the self-destruction of the artwork, now known as Love is in the Bin, the piece became the property of “someone other than Banksy and he knew that.”

The other rule that Banksy apparently broke was the Criminal Damage Act 1971, which states that a party “shall be guilty of an offence” should they be found destroying another person’s property with the intention to do so.

Verrell said that Banksy’s “criminal damage of buildings” seemingly wasn’t sufficient, so the artist “now has apparently criminally damaged someone else’s painting.”

Thankfully, the buyer of the painting was “happy with the result,” the legal expert concluded, which could change the definition of “damage” here.

“If I buy a house where the carpets are old and tatty, and then prior to moving in the original owner fits new carpets, does the same apply?” she asked. “…I don’t think most people who aren’t called Banksy would get away with such behavior.”

[via Bristol Live, cover image via Sotheby’s]

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