‘In Rehearsals It Worked Every Time’: New Banksy Video Shows How His Sensational Sotheby’s Stunt Was SUPPOSED to Work

The frame was actually supposed to shred the whole thing.

The art world can’t stop talking about Banksy’s latest prank, shredding one of his own artworks moments after it hammered down for $1.3 million at Sotheby’s London. (We can’t either! But only because you can’t stop reading about it! It’s a vicious cycle.)

A week and a half after the stunt, the anonymous street artist is continuing to fuel the fire. Today, he posted a new video to his website titled “Shred the Love,” billed on Instagram as a “director’s cut” to “Shredding the Girl With Balloon.”

“Some people think it didn’t really shred. It did,” Banksy insisted. “Some people think the auction house were in on it. They weren’t.”

The film opens to the sounds of power tools, the shredder being carefully secreted within the frame. It gives a much better look at the hidden mechanism than the previous clip (images of knife blades, placed lateral to the frame, had provoked questions about whether such a set-up would actually work. The actual device looks more like a conventional shredder mechanism.)

The mechanism hidden in the frame of Banksy's <em>Girl With Balloon</em>, as seen in the "Director's Cut" of his video.

The mechanism hidden in the frame of Banksy’s Girl With Balloon, as seen in the “Director’s Cut” of his video.

It then cuts to footage of Sotheby’s fancy auction preview. As wealthy collectors sip bubbles and chase hors d’oeuvres, a man, presumably a Sotheby’s employee, talks up the now-infamous work, Girl With Balloon (2006).

“It’s I think by far the most asked-about lot in the sale,” he offers. “The artist put the frame on as well. You get that quite often with Banksy; he quite likes the romanticism of having a very ornate, you know, National Gallery-esque frame.”

It then shows the moments leading up to the activation of the device, and even a quick cut to a finger pressing the button of the device.

The moment the shredder mechanism was activated, as seen in the new video.

The moment the shredder mechanism was activated, as seen in the new video.

As far as pranks go, it’s been enormously successful—a viral news story that has spread far beyond the art world, dominating headlines in major newspapers and serving as a reliable topic for water cooler talk. An epilogue in the new video, however, proves that the frame only worked half as well as intended.

“In rehearsals it worked every time,” reads a subtitle. Then, there’s a test run of the frame in action, shredding not just halfway, but from top to bottom.

Still, we can’t help but wonder if the buyer, who agreed to pay for the work despite the unexpected damage, would have been quite so amenable if the piece wasn’t still partially framed, and therefore capable of being displayed more or less as-is. After the stunt took place, Banksy rechristened the work Love Is in the Bin and issued a new certificate of authenticity.


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