Is Banksy, anonymous art provocateur, the troll? Or is he, in fact, the one being trolled by an art community that celebrates notoriety more than artistic merit? He certainly tried to be the former when he self-destructed a print of his “Girl With Balloon” just moments after it was purchased at a London Sotheby’s for $1.4 million. Sotheby’s, of course, embraced the prank, declaring it “the first time a piece of live performance art had been sold at auction.” It’s now called “Love Is In The Bin,” its price unchanged.
Would (or could) Sotheby’s have done the same had Banksy’s prank gone as planned? In a new “director’s cut” posted by the artist to YouTube, Banksy offers an extended look at the auction that includes more reactions from the pearl-clutching masses and even a shot of the perpetrator pushing the button that triggered the frame’s internal shredder. He also, intriguingly, teases that the whole thing didn’t quite go as planned.
“In rehearsals it worked every time,” the clip declares before showing the shredder slice through the entirety of a print. Even the best laid plans...
Based on this new footage, The New York Times posits that the shredder likely jammed due to the rehearsal print being made from what looks to be paper or linen, as opposed to the thick canvas of the final product. But if that’s the case, that seems like a pretty big oversight on Banksy’s part.
Regardless, it’s a delight to imagine how the Sotheby’s camp might have handled the print’s full destruction. Spaghetti-like strips dangling from an ornate frame is much easier to sell than some loose scraps of canvas, after all. But who are we kidding? They’d have just thrown them in a velvet-lined box and called it “Cut My Life Into Pieces” or some such thing.