Banksy's Girl with Balloon mural
Banksy's Girl with Balloon mural Creative Commons

A Banksy painting has self-destructed after fetching £1.04 million (AU$1.93 million) at auction. The spray-painted canvas “Girl with Balloon” by the anonymous street artist passed through a shredder hidden inside its frame just moments after it was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London on Friday.

The 2006 piece, one of Banksy’s most iconic images, shows a girl reaching towards a heart balloon, It was the final item in the auction, fetching more than three times its pre-sale estimate.

However, just a few minutes after it went under the hammer and fetched the price, the piece unexpectedly self-destructed, passing through a shredder hidden inside the frame.


Going, going, gone...

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“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, senior director and head of Contemporary Art, Europe London, said.

Sotheby’s it was “in discussion about next steps” with the artwork’s buyer. It said the unexpected incident became instant art world history. It was also the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically self-destructed by shredding itself after an auction.

“We have not experienced this situation in the past, where a painting spontaneously shredded upon achieving a record for the artist,” Branczik said. “We are busily figuring out what this means in an auction context.”

England-based Banksy never discloses his full identity. He was previously described as a white male in his late 20s, though this has never been verified. It is considered as a British cultural icon.

The “Girl with Balloon” was originally stencilled on a wall in east London in 2002. The auctioned artwork was a copy of the mural.