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Banksy Reveals How Shredding Stunt Didn’t Go To Plan: ‘In Rehearsals It Worked Every Time’

In a new video, the artist claims that his rigged frame was supposed to destroy Girl With Balloon in its entirety

Courtesy: the artist

Courtesy: the artist

Courtesy: the artist

The partial self-destruction of a Banksy painting at a Sotheby’s auction in London last week was the result of a misfire, the artist has claimed. Girl with Balloon (2006) appeared to drop from its faux-gilt frame, shredding over half of itself into ribbons, just after selling for GBP£860,000. But now the artist says that the entire artwork was supposed to shred.

A video titled ‘Shred the Love (the director’s cut)’ released by the enigmatic street artist shows a ‘test run’ with the artwork fully destroyed, accompanied by the caption, ‘In rehearsals, it worked every time.’ The film shows the rigged frame, with a secret shredder embedded inside, being constructed in Banksy’s studio. And it also includes footage from the evening of the auction, with the button pressed on a remote control, triggering the concealed shredder. 

In an interview with The Art Newspaper, Sotheby’s staffers maintained that they had not been in on the stunt. Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Europe Alex Branczik said that the sale of the work included stipulations that it be placed in the evening sale, and hung in the room. Branczik said that the auction house asked the artist’s studio Pest Control if the frame could be removed, but the request was refused. ‘Pest Control said very clearly: the frame is integral to the artwork, which it was, just not in the sort of way that we thought,’ Branczik said.

Sotheby’s said last week that the buyer had decided to keep the partially shredded artwork, now renamed Love is in the Bin (2018). The buyer, who is known only as a female European collector and longtime client of the auction house, said: ‘When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.’ The artwork has been granted a new certificate of authentication by the artist’s studio.

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