LONDON – When the $ 1.4 million work of art passed through a document shredder hidden in its frame, gasps were heard in the auction room. About half way through, the shredding stopped suddenly, and the upper part of "Girl With Balloon" seemed to have been saved.
But this pardon, according to Banksy, the street artist who created the work – and who organized the prank destroy it – was not planned. In a clip posted on YouTube on Wednesday, Banksy suggested that he meant that the painting would be completely destroyed at the auction in London on October 5, but that the plan was thwarted when the shredder unexpectedly stared.
The copy in the clip seems to have been printed on paper, while the "Girl With Balloon" was sold at auction, painted on canvas, a harder material, which may explain why the shredder failed. Joanna Brooks, the director of JBPR, who answered media inquiries on behalf of Banksy, did not respond to telephone calls or an email asking whether the samples were actually made on paper copies.
"It looks like paper is coming out, but there is a possibility that it could be a fine canvas," said Danielle Howe, who works for John Jones, a London-based screen manufacturer. But she added, "It's hard to determine without looking at the work in person."
Banksy's prank caused shock and amusement, but it also resulted in a plethora of conspiracy theories about Sotheby's involvement. "Some people think the auction house was in, they were not," Banksy said in an Instagram post on Thursday that draws people's attention to the YouTube clip.
Alex Branczik, Sotheby's director of contemporary art in Europe, also denied any agreement. In an interview published Wednesday with The Art Newspaper, he said Sotheby & # 39; s asked Pest Control, Banksys official authentication authority, if the gaudy frame could be removed before the auction.
"Pest Control said very clearly: The frame is integral to the artwork," said Mr. Branczik.
He added that a "third-party restorer" inspected the frame but did not notice the document shredder. "You speak what you see – it was more like a sculpture," said Mr. Branczik. The restorer did not take the frame apart, he added.
The buyer of the artwork has kept the piece. It is now called "love is in the bin" after the pest control has issued a new authentication certificate for the work.