A Banksy painting has “self-destructed” just moments after selling for more than £1m.

Girl With Red Balloon was one of the star attractions at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale on Friday evening.

Depicting a girl reaching towards a bright red heart-shaped balloon, the spray paint and acrylic on canvas is one of Banksy’s best-known images.

The auction house said the painting was signed and dedicated and that the vendor had acquired it from the artist in 2006.

The winning bid of £860,000 (£1,042,000 including buyer’s premium) was given by phone at around 9pm, well over the pre-auction estimate of between £200-300,000.

But just after the hammer went down, the painting was shredded, thought to be by a remotely activated mechanism within the frame.

The prized work then came out the bottom in strips.

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