R20m Banksy artwork self-destructs seconds after being sold

The artwork was shredded moment after going under the hammer for $1.7m

In a video posted on Instagram, Banksy revealed the details of the custom-made frame, which included a shredder "in case it was ever up for auction".

His art is known to be similar to Banksy's and many have claimed he could be the man behind the can.

Girl With Balloon had initially appeared on a wall in Great Eastern Street, London.

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. "I'll be quite honest, we have not experienced this situation in the past, where a painting is spontaneously shredded upon achieving a record for the artist", Sotheby's Alex Branczik told The New York Times.

"The unexpected incident became instant art world folklore and certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer", the auctioneers added in the statement.

There is a speculation that the auctioneers were aware that a shredder was hidden in the painting.

The artwork was signed and dedicated and the vendor acquired it from the artist in 2006, the auction house said.

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The secretive icon had once made clear that he does not like his paintings to be sold to the highest bidder.

On his Instagram account, Banksy dubbed the painting "Going, going, gone." in a captioned photo of the work.

According to experts, the piece was originally one of a numbered edition of 600 unsigned prints, which in mint condition would fetch a minimum of £40,000 at auction.

And what about the identity of the man in the salesroom who remotely activated the shredding device?

In 2008, the British newspaper The Mail on Sunday identified Banksy as Robin Gunningham, a former private schoolboy from the Bristol area of western England. He, too, was identified as Banksy, by Lang.

Sotheby's declined to comment on exchanges between the individual and its security staff, and on whether the company had any plans to press charges. If people with mountains of cash are buying art to have a ridiculously rare conversation piece that they hope others recognize, this one just rocketed up the list.

Another film of the auction appears to have captured the artist himself videoing the artwork being shredded.

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