Paris auction house Artcurial held its breath Wednesday ahead of the sale of four works by Banksy, unsure what to expect following the enigmatic artist’s shredding of a painting just moments after it went under the hammer.
Artcurial said security would be tight for Wednesday evening’s sale and that this time, no hidden shredding devices appeared to be concealed in the frames — but with Banksy, you just never know.
“We are going to be particularly vigilant. We’ve put security measures in place but we’ll be looking to keep it discreet and as light as possible,” Arnaud Oliveux, the contemporary art specialist in charge of the sale, told AFP.
“There won’t be 10 heavies in every room,” he added.
Banksy, a British street artist whose identity is known to only a handful of friends, caused a sensation this month when one of his paintings began shredding itself, just after selling for $1.4 million (1.2 million euros).
Experts say “Girl with Balloon” is now probably worth even more because the stunt created such a massive media stir.
Oliveux predicted that if anything out of the ordinary happens in Paris, “it won’t be a repeat” of the stunt that flabbergasted a room of champagne-sipping auction-goers at Sotheby’s in London.
For one thing, the frames around the three paintings up for grabs are on the slender side, meaning it would be difficult to hide a shredding device of the kind used in London, which Banksy concealed under a thick wooden frame.
– Background checks –
Artcurial has nonetheless done background checks on attendees — not least after speculation that it may have been Banksy himself who triggered the shredding device inside the room at Sotheby’s.
“We’ve asked them to identify themselves, we’ve made a few enquiries,” Oliveux said.
The sale, which also features other celebrated street artists such as France’s JR and US duo FAILE, includes three silkscreens by Banksy as well as a plastic statuette of a rat holding a paintbrush.
Oliveux acknowledged there was more interest in this sale than there would have been pre-shredding.
The Banksy works have been on show at Artcurial’s elegant auction house on the Champs-Elysees roundabout, and many visitors have been pausing to take a look.
As for the shredding of “Girl With Balloon” — now renamed “Love Is In The Bin” — Banksy has admitted things didn’t go according to plan.
He posted a video on YouTube showing it was supposed to have been fully shredded, and that during test-runs it worked perfectly each time.
But when the prank was finally carried out, only the bottom half of the painting shredded — because, he revealed, it got stuck.
The woman who had just bought the work for £1,042,000 — a female European collector whose identity has not been revealed — said she was stunned when the device began whirring into motion.
“I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realise that I would end up with my own piece of art history,” Sotheby’s quoted her as saying.
Alex Branczik, head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art in Europe, has meanwhile hailed the self-destructing painting as “the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction”.
“Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one,” Branczik added.
Mass rallies, crazy decisions, grandiose posturing: This is what living in a dictatorship feels like
Another week of shaking our heads and wondering how much longer we can survive him. Yet again, Donald Trump overwhelmed practically everything with the force of his obscene personality, running his mouth and his thumbs even while he was failing to run the country in any sort of conventional sense. He doesn’t actually do anything, but he dominates everything. Living in America today is like being trapped in a room with him — no doors, no windows, no exits, only Trump and the sound of Trump and the hideous image of Trump, all day, every day, for day after day after day.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Trump officials furious with NRA over ‘dick move’ leak of LaPierre phone call: report
President Donald Trump originally appeared interested in strengthening federal background check laws in the wake of deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Then, after a phone conversation with National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre on Tuesday, Trump reportedly assured him that background checks were "off the table" and pivoted to discussing anything but guns.
It was a depressingly familiar moment for Trump, who also previously headfaked toward some minor gun control reforms after the Parkland school shooting and quickly walked them back.
Trump mulling ‘uniquely dystopian’ proposal to use AI to identify mental health issues as risk factors for gun violence
One critic called the proposal, which expands on Trump's claim that mental illnesses, not guns, are to blame for gun violence, "nothing less than chilling."
In keeping with his insistence that people with mental illnesses, and not the wide availability of guns, are to blame for the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in the U.S., President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a new project aimed at detecting mental health issues to stop shootings before they happen.
As The Washington Post reported Thursday, the Trump administration has worked with Bob Wright, a close friend of Trump's and his collaborator on the reality show "The Apprentice," to develop a proposal for a new federal agency that would be called the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA), within the Health and Human Services Department.