Paintings by the anonymous street artist Banksy sell for millions of dollars. But in just moments one of his most recent creations was destroyed by none other than Hollywood actor Christopher Walken.
Banksy’s latest offering, titled “The Rat,” appears at the end of the final episode of “The Outlaws,” a BBC drama written, directed and starring Stephen Merchant, co-creator of British comedy series “The Office.”
“The Outlaws” is set in the southern English city of Bristol. Many of Banksy’s earliest murals appeared in Bristol, leading many to believe that the anonymous artist hails from the city.
Walken features in the drama as one of seven bickering lawbreakers forced together on a community service program. In the final scene of the episode – which aired on BBC iPlayer on Wednesday evening – the cohort are seen completing their service by painting over some graffiti.
But when Walken’s character, Frank, pulls away a piece of wood, he discovers a rat with two cans of spray paint with the word ‘BANKSY’ written above it. Hesitant, he turns around and asks probation officer Diane, played by Jessica Gunning, what to do.
“Diane, look at this rat I found,” he says.
“Any vermin under 10 kilos are yours, bag it and bin it,” says his supervisor, without turning away from the Lee Child novel she is reading.
“No, it’s a graffiti rat,” he responds.
“Council said paint over any graffiti, so crack on,” a fed up Diane says.
“It’s awfully good,” adds Walken, in an attempt to talk her round.
But when Diane ends with “less debating, more painting,” Walken shrugs his shoulders and rollers over the image, bringing the series to a close.
A spokesperson for “The Outlaws” confirmed to CNN that the piece was a genuine Banksy, destroyed by Walken.
The spokesperson said in a statement: “We can confirm that the artwork at the end of ‘The Outlaws’ was an original Banksy, and that Christopher Walken painted over that artwork during the filming of this scene, ultimately destroying it.”
This was not the first time a Banksy painting was destroyed in a public setting. In 2018 Banksy’s iconic image of a girl reaching out for a red, heart-shaped balloon sold for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Moments later, a shredder hidden inside the “artist’s frame” started its work and the art “self-destructed.”
The artwork, given the new title “Love is in the Bin,” was auctioned again at Sotheby’s last month, selling for a record £18.5 million ($25.4 million).