October 6, 2018 / 10:39 AM / in 14 days

'We just got Banksy-ed': balloon girl painting self-destructs at sale

LONDON (Reuters) - A painting by mysterious British artist Banksy shred itself into pieces at the moment it sold for more than 1 million pounds at a London auction on Friday.

Onlookers gasped and laughed after the bottom half of “Girl with Balloon”, one of Banksy’s best-known works, was sucked into a shredder hidden in its frame as the hammer fell, auction house Sotheby’s said.

The 12-year-old painting had just been sold for 1,042,000 pounds ($1.37 million) - matching Banksy’s all-time record.

FILE PHOTO: An employee walks with Banksy's "Girl and Balloon" 2009, at Bonhams auction house in London March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” Alex Branczik, senior director and head of contemporary art, said in a statement on Sotheby’s website.

Banksy himself posted an Instagram picture of shocked attendees watching the painting disintegrate, with the caption: “Going, going, gone...”

Sotheby’s said this was “certainly” the first time a work of art started to shred itself after coming under the hammer.

Banksy's painting "Girl with Red Balloon" is seen shredded after its sale at Sotheby auction in London, Britain October 5, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media on October 6, 2018. INSTAGRAM/@PIERREKOUKJIAN/INSTAGRAM/@SINCEFINEART via REUTERS

POP ART WILL EAT ITSELF

Video footage showed two men taking the painting away shortly after the sale, bits of the image hanging down from the bottom of the frame in strips.

The auction house was not immediately available for comment on the whereabouts of the painting’s remains, or how its value might have changed in light of its self-destruction.

Banksy, whose real identity is unknown, is known for sharply ironic outdoor graffiti with political themes, including at Israel’s barrier at the West Bank and Disneyland where he painted a life-size figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.

Once a small-time graffiti artist from the English city of Bristol, Banksy’s work has become hugely valuable.

Writing by Andy Bruce; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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