sothebys banksy art A stunned crowd at Sothebys auction looks on as Girl with Balloon shreds in frame

Banksy, the enigmatic British artist known for his satirical street art prints, returned to the spotlight last week with a provocative statement heard around the world. With this quote, "Every desire for destruction is also a desire for creation" (attributed by Banksy to Picasso but actually from Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin), he explained on his Instagram account what happened at Sotheby's London auction house. Once the hammer fell to $1.37 million on Banksy's painting Girl with Balloon, the work began self-destructing by a shredder that he built inside the frame that could be operated remotely.

"It looks like we've just been Banksy'd," said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's Senior Director and head of the Contemporary Art division in Europe. The auction house claims that it had not been informed about the built-in shredder, and neither had the anonymous buyer, with whom they are discussing how to proceed.

Related: Buying into Banksy

bansky art Girl with the Balloon, Banksy

Girl With Balloon, one of Banksy's most recognizable designs, first appeared as graffiti in London and symbolizes the loss of innocence. The auctioned version, made with spray paint and acrylic on canvas in 2006, was originally valued at between £200,000 and £300,000, but an intense bidding war quadrupled the estimated price. Reports say that the shredded work has already doubled in value.

Related: Step into Banksy's Dismaland

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. "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge" - Picasso

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Nevertheless, Banksy's genius cannot be imitated. An owner of a Girl with Balloon print estimated at £40,000 attempted to shred his work in a similar style in order to increase the value, but instead rendered the work practically worthless.

See Banksy on Barnebys.