In February 2001, British artist Michael Landy announced that he was fed up with materialism. He then produced a curious piece of performance art. Entitled "Break Down," the work simply comprised of the complete destruction -- over a two week period -- of nearly everything which Landy owned: Under his supervision, a team of 12 workers sledge-hammered, shredded, or otherwise pulverized 7,006 objects, including family heirlooms, valuable artworks, his Saab 900, personal letters and photographs and, most painful of all, a beloved sheepskin coat given to him by his father.
The proceedings were witnessed by some 45,000 people. At the end, the artist was left with nothing but a turquoise jumpsuit (which he was wearing at the time) and his pet cat.
[Some Britons, who found the show rather shocking, bought his cat a new bed and some toys. How did the episode make Landry feel? "Rather joyful, actually."]