LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The world’s most famous street artist is making headlines once again after one of his stunts payed off years after he set it up, and it has only made the artwork in question that much more valuable.
British pop art provocateur Banksy stunned the art world Friday when one of his most iconic pieces “Girl With Balloon” went for a whopping $1.4 million at Sotheby’s auction house in London, a personal record for the artist. However, that was just the beginning. When the winning bid was announced, the spray-painted work on canvas began descending in its ornate frame while up on the wall, revealing the frame was, in fact, a shredder.
“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary European art.
Shortly after video of the shocked crowd went viral, Banksy posted a video to Instagram explaining the stunt had been in the works for years. It shows how he constructed the shredder from scratch inside the frame. The caption reads, “‘The urge to destroy is also a creative urge’ – Picasso”.
Back on this side of the pond, street artist Plastic Jesus, considered “the Banksy of L.A.” by some, said the stunt was admirable.
“The whole art within the stunt within the execution of it — absolutely brilliant,” said the masked and hooded man, a look made famous by Banksy, himself. He said the value of the painting only went up after it got shredded.
“People should get their head around it, by the fact that art isn’t just a canvas that’s painted on a wall in a guild frame. It’s a whole act, and it’s a whole story behind the act,” said Jesus. “The value of the art, in this case, is all about the story behind it.”
Plastic Jesus is no stranger to controversy, himself. He installed a cocaine-snorting Oscar statue on Hollywood Boulevard back in 2015. Before Donald Trump’s election, he took the then-candidate’s suggestion and built a wall, but he did it around Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
More recently, he posted a photo of a Trump-style, red baseball cap reading, “Make Rape Illegal Again,” seemingly an allusion to the allegations of sexual assault against now-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
At a studio workshop Sunday, some of Plastic Jesus’s students were equally amused and inspired.
“I love that it has an element of subversiveness, and yet, at the same time, you know that this was so planned out, and I love that now this piece of art has been morphed and created into something else,” said one of the artists-in-training.
“People are completely amazed with what he’s able to pull off, how he’s able to do it, and just the whole reaction from people, you know, which let’s face it, that’s the whole purpose of what he’s doing,” said Jesus.
Banksy explored his own work through the story of Dr. Brainwash, a street artist alter-ego created by a Melrose Avenue shop owner, in the 2010 documentary “Exit Through The Gift Shop.” Some have speculated the critically acclaimed film, which takes place largely in L.A. and looks at the hype and celebrity around art, was, itself, a stunt. You can watch the trailer below.