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British street artist Banksy has stunned the art world with arguably his most audacious prank yet, self-destructing one of his best-known works moments after it fetched more than a million pounds at auction in London.

A representative for Banksy, when reached, cited the artist's quotation of Picasso that "the urge to destroy is also a creative urge".

The artist also published a video that states that he secretly built the shredder into the frame in case the work was ever put up for auction.

But, was the auction house in on the stunt?

The painting was the final item to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London, which was sold for just over £1 million (RM 5.45 million).

It's perhaps surprising that no alarm bells began ringing among the observers when the piece sold for the exact same sum as Banksy's previous auction record, set in 2008. And as speculation grew that the shredded painting might increase in value, the owner of a Banksy artwork tried replicating the audacious prank to increase its value, only to fail miserably.

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

Artist Isaiah King, who is exhibiting at The Other Art Fair in London, said the event was abuzz with news of Banksy's antics.

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Some in the art world have even speculated that there is no Banksy - or rather, no one artist, but a collective of like-minded thinkers who each take turns being him.

A buyer would not normally be expected to go through with the purchase if a work is damaged while in the care of an auction house.

Unlike the various print editions of the image, this was a unique, original painting signed by Banksy, and gifted to the owner following his 2006 Barley Legal show in Los Angeles.

"Girl with Balloon is one of the most iconic images of recent times".

Despite the theories however, Banksy's cloak of mystique remains intact for the public.

"We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context".

"We've had a number of #Banksy print owners contact us today asking if they shred their artwork will it be worth more".


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