Did Banksy photograph the shredder prank?

Elusive street artist Banksy may have been in the room when one of his million-dollar paintings was shredded in front of shocked art buyers.

An image posted to Banksy's Instagram account showed the moment 'Girl With Balloon' was destroyed at an art auction in London on Saturday (NZ time). 

Footage posted to social media shows a curly-haired man wearing dark glasses taking a photograph from the same position Banksy's Instagram image appears to have been taken from. 

The man in the video could be Banksy, some have speculated.
The man in the video could be Banksy, some have speculated. Photo credit: Screenshot / Twitter

The man's appearance matches that of Robin Gunningham, who in 2008 was named as the real Banksy in a Mail on Sunday investigation. 

But Banksy's representatives denied the claims, and the artist's identity officially remains a mystery. 

Banksy revealed the orchestration of the prank in a video he uploaded to Instagram. 

"A few years ago I secretly built a shredder into a painting in case it was ever put up for auction," he said.

Banksy captioned the video with the Picasso quote, "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge."

The stunt shocked onlookers, with video showing a stunned member of the auction staff on the phone to the winning bidder as the painting is destroyed before his eyes.

Some at the auction have speculated the elusive artist, who reportedly hates the art world, may have been in the room ready to push the button. 

Nevertheless, the half-shredded painting is now said to be worth double its original price of NZ$1.9 million, because of the huge interest the prank has generated, reports the Daily Mail. 

But there is speculation the artwork that was shredded could be a fake, despite Sotheby's describing the work ahead of its sale as "authenticated by Pest Control", referring to the organisation that acts on Banksy's behalf. 

Sotheby's head of contemporary art for Europe, Alex Branczik, said he was not in on the ruse.

The video released by Banksy showed the auction room from various angles, adding to speculation the artist may have had a team of people around the room ready to film the prank. 

There have been several 'sightings' of Banksy over the years, but none have confirmed the identity of the elusive artist. 

It's been suggested Banksy is not one, but several artists working together.