When a Banksy painting “self-destructed” after selling at auction for £1.04 million ($1.4 million) last week, it looked like the perfect stunt – one that caught onlookers and the art world by surprise.
But the anonymous artist has now suggested that things didn’t go quite to plan.
Mobile phone footage from the London sale shows the artwork sliding into a shredder hidden inside its frame, before coming to an abrupt stop just over halfway through and being carried away by auction officials.
However, a new video, posted on Banksy’s website Wednesday, implies that the 2006 painting “Girl with Balloon” was supposed to be entirely destroyed. It shows footage of an identical-looking artwork being shredded from top to bottom, with strips of canvas falling from the frame.
The clip is accompanied by the message, “In rehearsals it worked every time…”
Described as a “director’s cut,” the three-minute video offers further evidence of how the anonymous artist installed the shredder. The footage implies that the stunt was initiated via a handheld device, although it is unclear whether the close-up shot of a button being pressed was captured at the sale.
The video also appears to poke fun at the art industry. Scenes seemingly recorded at a pre-sale event have been edited to feature snippets of conversation like “Oh gracious!” and “more Champagne?”
At one point, a man – who appears to be an auction house employee – is filmed standing beside the painting commenting on its now notorious frame.
“The artist put the frame on as well,” he is heard saying. “You get that quite often with Banksy. He quite likes the romanticism of having a very ornate, National Gallery-esque frame.”
It is unclear how – or by whom – the footage was obtained, and some sections appears to have been surreptitiously recorded. Scenes from inside the auction room have been shot from a number of different angles, fueling speculation about whether Banksy or his associates were present at the sale.
Banksy, the elusive street artist
Shortly after the auction, Sotheby’s announced that the painting had been renamed “Love is in the Bin.” The winning bidder has reportedly proceeded with the purchase, amid speculation that the artwork’s value may, in fact, rise as a result of its partial destruction.
Sotheby’s has previously denied involvement in – or even knowledge of – the stunt.