World-renowned artist and professional prankster Banksy knows a thing or two about attracting attention.

Yet, his latest stunt might be his most extravagant and expensive to date.

On Friday night, his famous 2006 artwork 'Girl with a Balloon' was auctioned off by Sotheby's, eventually selling for the eye-watering price of $1.2 million.

This wasn't a regular auction though, as it appears to have been an elaborate performance piece.

Once the piece was sold, it slowly started to slide out of its frame and into a shredder that was installed within, thus destroying the valuable piece that someone had spent a lot of money on just moments before.

Given that this is Banksy, a person who isn't shy of making a scene or provoking a profound message, we shouldn't be surprised at the audacity of this stunt, but it did catch Sotheby's off-guard.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper,Alex Branczik, of Sotheby's, said he was "not in on the ruse", adding:

It appears we just got Banksy-ed. He is arguably the greatest British street artist, and tonight we saw a little piece of Banksy genius.

We are busy figuring out what this means in an auction context. The shredding is now part of the integral artwork.

We have not experienced a situation where a painting has spontaneously shredded, upon achieving a record for the artist.

It is not clear how the piece was destroyed as it would have required Banksy, or an associate, to have been in the room to activate the shredding mechanism in the frame.

The Art Newspaper report stated that 'a man dressed in black sporting sunglasses and a hat was seen scuffling with security guards near the entrance to Sotheby’s shortly after the incident'.

Sotheby's are yet to confirm what they will do with the remains of the artwork but did say in a statement:

We have talked with the successful purchaser who was surprised by the story. We are in discussion about next steps.

Over on Twitter, the overwhelming consensus was that people loved the prank, yet some had questions.

HT Vulture

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