iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — A million-dollar piece of artwork by mysterious street artist Banksy was left in shreds before an aghast audience seconds after it was auctioned off for a record $1.4 million on Friday. The British artist, whose identity is still unknown after decades of speculation, timed his painting, Girl With Balloon, to self-destruct via a shredder hidden in the artwork's frame.
The painting was auctioned off Friday night at Sotheby's in London.
Girl With Balloon sold for 1,042,000 pounds, or about $1,367,104 — tying a record for the priciest piece of art ever sold by Banksy, according to the auction house. Keep It Spotless, a defaced work by Damien Hirst, set the previous record in February 2008.
Sotheby's admitted it was pranked by the unknown artist, and took it all in stride.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, a senior director at Sotheby's, said in a statement.
The artist himself posted a photo of the shredded work on his Instagram with the caption, "Going, going, gone…"
After the crowd's initial shock, they whipped out their cameras to take pictures of the moment.
Video shot by an attendee showed two Sotheby's workers removing the painting, partially shredded and hanging from the frame, from the wall and whisking it away.
Banksy first gained prominence for his stencil work on walls in the late 1990s and began holding exhibitions in the early 2000s in the U.K. and the United States.
The documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, released in 2010, garnered him further attention worldwide and an Oscar nomination. The film did not win, dashing onlookers' hopes at a reveal of the artist.
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