A partially shredded canvas of one of British artist Banksy's most celebrated works sold at auction in London Thursday for a record £18.58 million (€21.93 million), three years after being bought for a fraction of that price.

The artwork - now called "Love is in the Bin - sold for nearly £1.1 million (€1.3 million) at Sotheby's where in October 2018, before it dramatically passed through a shredder hidden in its frame moments later.

Thursday's sale, which saw nine bidders battle for 10 minutes for the work formerly called "Girl With Balloon", beats the previous record of £16.75 million (€19.77 million) set for the celebrated street artist in March. 

The work, the seventh lot in a wide-ranging contemporary arts sale, had an estimated selling price of £4-6 million. 

"It is almost three years to the day since one of the most ingenious moments of performance art this century made auction history," Alex Branczik, of Sotheby's, said following the record sale.

"Banksy is no stranger to making headlines and this latest chapter in his story has captured imaginations across the world - we can only begin to guess what might come next." 

The 2018 stunt, which poked fun at the staid world of fine art, is typical of the graffiti artist's irreverent style after his work began appearing on the streets of Bristol in southwest England in the 1980s.

It was the latest in a long history of unpredictable moves for the provocative guerilla artist, whose work has appeared across Britain and around the world.  

The partially shredded canvas shows a small child reaching up toward a heart-shaped red balloon.

The original, which first appeared on a wall in east London, has been reproduced endlessly in prints and online, and appropriated by some of the world's best-known brands.

It had been called one of the most significant artworks of the early 21st century in the British press, before the shredded version was granted a new certificate and date by Pest Control, Banksy's authentication body, and given the new title.

His latest works have appeared recently in several British seaside towns.

Meanwhile, the work which broke his previous record honoured caregivers during the coronavirus pandemic, with proceeds from that sale donated to the state-run National Health Service (NHS).

The painting, "Game Changer", sold to an unnamed buyer for £14.4 million plus costs after fierce bidding at Christie's auction house in London.

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