- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2018

A painting by mysterious British street artist Banksy self-destructed within seconds of selling for $1.4 million during an auction Friday at Sotheby’s in London.

Video shared by Banksy on social media Saturday showed the artwork, “Girl with Balloon,” shredding itself moments after a bidder agreed by telephone to purchase the painting for £1.04 million, or more than triple its expected selling price.

“A few years ago I secretly built a shredder into a painting,” the artist said in an Instagram post, “in case it was ever put up for auction.”

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Sotheby’s described the artwork prior to auction as “spray paint and acrylic on canvas, mounted on board, in artist’s frame.”

“Executed in 2006, this work is unique,” reads the lot description. “Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2006.”

The painting was sold to a private bidder, and Sotheby’s was “in discussions” about proceeding further, the auction house said in a statement.

“We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Europe, told reporters in a press conference following the prank.

“The shredding is now part of the integral art work. We have not experienced a situation where a painting has spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist,” he added.

Sotheby’s credited Banksy as being born in 1974, but few biographical details, including their real name, haven completely corroborated during their stint as one of the world’s most well known street artists.

Versions of “Girl with Balloon” by Banksy have been painted across the world, and other iterations have similarly sold well during previous auctions.

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