An auction house was forced to admit it got “Banksy-ed” after a piece by the mysterious artist shredded itself as it went under the hammer.
Girl With Balloon, one of Banksy’s most widely recognised works, was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London on Friday night.
The framed, stencil spray painting shows a girl reaching towards a heart-shaped balloon and had been the final piece sold, equalling Banksy’s previous auction record of £1.04 million (€1.18 million).
However, in a twist to be expected from street art’s most subversive character, the canvas suddenly passed through a shredder installed in the frame.
Posting a picture of the moment on Instagram, Banksy wrote: "Going, going, gone . . ."
The 2006 piece was shown dangling in pieces from the bottom of the frame.
"It appears we just got Banksy-ed," said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe.
Banksy is a Bristol-born artist whose true identity — despite rampant speculation — has never been officially revealed.
He came to prominence through a series of graffiti pieces that appeared on buildings across the country, marked by deeply satirical undertones.
Friday’s self-destruction was the latest in a long history of anti-establishment statements by the street artist.
Other recent works included the opening of Dismaland, his dystopian, Disneyland-esque theme park in 2015, which he described as a “family theme park unsuitable for children”.
Girl With Balloon appeared on a wall in Great Eastern Street, London.
The gallery version featured spray paint and acrylic on canvas, mounted on a board. – PA