Banksy artwork self-destructs just after $1.4 million sale

LONDON — Art prankster Banksy has struck again.

A work by the elusive street artist self-destructed in front of startled auction-goers on Friday, moments after being sold for 1.04 million pounds ($1.4 million). In an Instagram post Saturday, Banksy claimed the dramatic artistic payoff had been years in the making.

The spray-painted canvas “Girl With Balloon” went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London, fetching more than three times its pre-sale estimate and equaling a record price for the artist.

Then, as an alarm sounded, it ran through a shredder embedded in the frame, leaving half the canvas hanging from the bottom in strips.

A post on Banksy’s official Instagram account showed the moment — and the shocked reaction of those in the room — with the words “Going, going, gone…”

A video was later posted on the account, stating: “A few years ago I secretly built a shredder into a painting in case it was ever put up for auction.” The video showed images of a shredder being implanted into a picture frame along with footage of Friday’s auction finale.

Banksy’s spokeswoman, Jo Brooks, confirmed that the post was genuine.

Sotheby’s — which had noted before the sale that the work’s ornate gilded frame was “an integral element of the artwork chosen by Banksy himself” — appeared as shocked as anyone else.

“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, head of contemporary European art at the auction house.

The auction house said it was “in discussion about next steps” with the buyer, whose identity was not disclosed. Some art-market watchers say the work could be worth even more in its shredded state.

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