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As street artist Banksy's painting shreds itself in auction house, a new art piece is made

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Banksy, GIRL WITH RED BALLOON, 2006. Photo: Sotheby’s

Widely known for his provocative stencil graffiti, anonymous English street artist has struck again with another of his subversive stunts.

Last Friday (Oct 5), just seconds after the final hammer fell at Sotheby’s auction in London, Banksy’s Girl with Red Balloon started to pass through a built-in shredder hidden within its frame.

Never mind that just moments ago, the painting was sold to a phone bidder for S$2.5million.

Those present at that auction house appeared bemused as they helplessly watched the painting self-destruct.

Expressions of horror and amusement on the faces of those in the packed salesroom at Sotheby's auction house last Friday, Oct 5. Photo: Sotheby's

Banksy, Love is in the Bin, 2018. Photo: Sotheby's 

That incident itself, which made international news, is already a memorable story that will be recounted in the years to come, but it doesn’t end there.

In the process of the unexpected shredding, Banksy created a new art piece from the half-destroyed original, and was given a new title, Love is in the Bin. The new work has since been granted a certificate by Pest Control, Banksy’s authentication body. Love is in the Bin is the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.

Banksy, Mona Lisa Smile, 2004. Photo: Dazed Digital 

Last week’s incident created quite a stir, but it’s not the first time Banksy has pranked a leading establishment in the art world. In 2004, he snuck his own rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and successfully hung it in the Louvre. The Banksy touch? In place of her famous mysterious expression was the yellow smiley face.

As for the buyer of Love is in the Bin, known to be a female European collector and longstanding client of Sotheby's, she has proceeded with the purchase at the hammer price and is happy to own "a piece of art history".