<pThe winning bidder for a Banksy painting that self-destructed during an auction last week has decided to go through with the purchase, auctioneer Sotheby's said Thursday.
<pThe auction house said a female European collector was the successful bidder, agreeing to pay 1.04 million pounds ($1.4 million) for "Girl With Balloon." But just after the hammer came down, and to the shock of those in the saleroom, the bottom half of the work passed through a shredder concealed in the frame.
<pSotheby's said the painting has now been retitled "Love is in the Bin" and authenticated by Banksy's Pest Control agency.
<pAlex Branczik, head of contemporary art for Europe at Sotheby's, says it is "the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction."
<pThe buyer's identity was not revealed but Sotheby's quoted her as saying: "When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history."
<pBanksy, who has never disclosed his full identity, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world's best-known artists. His mischievous and often satirical images include two policemen kissing, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces and a chimpanzee with a sign bearing the words "Laugh now, but one day I'll be in charge."
<p"Girl With Balloon," which depicts a small child reaching up toward a heart-shaped red balloon, was originally stenciled on a wall in east London and has been endlessly reproduced, becoming one of Banksy's best-known images.
<pThis story has been updated to correct the title of Sotheby's Branczik to head of contemporary art for Europe.