Banksy shocks art world by shredding million-dollar work at auction

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BANKSY'S identity is one of the biggest mysteries in Britain - so who is the mysterious street artists behind the latest Girl With Balloon stunt?

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).

The spray paint and acrylic work on canvas and mounted on board - which was created in 2006 after first appearing as a mural in East London - depicted a girl reaching out toward a bright red, heart-shaped balloon.

"We've just been Banksy'd", said Alex Branczik, senior director at Sotheby's, on Friday.

While Banksy failed to share how the shredder was set in motion, those who attended the Sotheby's event noticed a odd man inside the crowd, prompting rumors that the destruction mechanism was activated by the elusive artist himself.

"Millionaire sells a painting for a million to other millionaires then destroys it", wrote fellow street artist and Banksy friend Ben Eine, known globally for his bold letters, in an Instagram post.

As the auction listing described, the painting was also "bordered by an ornate gilded frame, an integral element of the artwork chosen by Banksy himself".

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Could this be Banksy filming his own stunt?

Yesterday, Banksy posted a video on his Instagram account explaining how he installed the shredder in the frame without anyone knowing.

It was instantly recognisable as a Banksy to anyone familiar with his work.

"In case it was ever put up for auction..."

Sotheby's said that it was discussing how to move forward with "Balloon's" buyer, who now owns a shredded but historically significant work by one of contemporary art's most famous figures. Millions of people have seen Banksy's video of the stunt on Instagram, and it captured global headlines over the weekend. The said auction took place on October 5 in Sothebys where one millionaire could have laid his dirty hands on a creation of a rebel, until it got shredded.

Banksy works including Slave Labour are due to go under the hammer and auctioneers have promised no items will "shred or explode".

"It was a brilliant PR stunt", Offer Waterman, a dealer in 20th-century British art, who attended the art auction, told The New York Times. He called Banksy's prank "a turning point in the history of contemporary and conceptual art".