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Winning bidder says she will pay for Banksy painting that shredded itself

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A shocked bidder, who watched a Banksy painting she bought at auction shred itself, has decided to pay for the artwork anyway.

The anonymous buyer of a Banksy painting that was partially shredded at an auction has agreed to proceed with her payment of £1.04 million pounds ($AU1.9 million) despite the damage to the artwork, the auctioneers say.

"When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history," the auction house quoted the bidder as saying on Thursday.

Sotheby's said the buyer of the 2006 work "Balloon Girl", identified only as "a female European collector and a long-standing client of Sotheby's", had decided to continue with the purchase at the original price.

Banksy said he had secretly built a shredder into the outsize gilt frame of the picture, activating it as the auction closed on October 5.

A video posted on Banky's instagram account shows the street artist's artwork, Girl With Balloon, being taken away after shredding itself.
A video posted on Banky's instagram account shows the street artist's artwork, Girl With Balloon, being taken away after shredding itself.
AAP

The artwork has since been renamed "Love is in the Bin" and certificated by Pest Control, a company run by Banksy, who keeps his identity secret, London-based auctioneers Sotheby's said.

He posted a video of the shredding on his website, leading to speculation that he personally attended the auction.

"Balloon Girl" came top in a 2017 poll of arts writers to find Britain's favourite artwork, Sotheby's said.

Meanwhile, Thierry Ehrmann, who heads Artprice, a firm which closely monitors art market prices, agreed that the prank had probably increased the value of the work.

It might now be worth "more than two million euros," he suggested.

Arnaud Oliveux, an expert at the Artcurial auction house Paris, suggested Banksy was careful not to destroy the whole of his painting.

Because it is only partially shredded, "it becomes something else, egged on by the social media buzz" and acquires the aura of "an iconic work of art", he said.

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