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When tech goes wrong: Banksy’s shredder was meant to totally destroy his artwork

Shredding the Girl and Balloon - The Director’s half cut

Banksy said this week that the plan was to shred the entirety of his artwork, not half of it. But the shredder built into the frame suddenly stopped halfway through.

For those who missed the hullabaloo, the art world went into meltdown earlier this month when Banksy’s famous Girl With Balloon stencil self-shredded just seconds after it auctioned for around $1.4 million.

Hardly surprisingly, it was none other than the international man of mystery himself who was behind the stunt, rather than some rogue employee at the London Sotheby’s where the sale took place.

As the artwork began to be ripped to shreds, those inside the auction room couldn’t quite believe their eyes. But as the shredder reached about halfway, it suddenly ground to a halt, leaving a portion of the torn picture dangling down beneath the frame, and the half intact, still inside.

Banksy, whose true identity to this day has not been officially confirmed, released a video shortly after the auction that showed him, or his team, building the shredder into the frame. The clip also showed the moment inside the auction room when the shredder cranked into action.

But this week, Banksy posted a slightly longer video of the incident, this one called “the director’s half cut.” Running for nearly three minutes, the footage suggests that the artist actually wanted to shred all of Girl With Balloon, not just some of it.

“In rehearsals it worked every time,” an on-screen message reads before showing a demonstration of the shredder working its way through an entire print of Girl With Balloon, one of the artist’s most iconic images.

It’s not clear why the shredder was unable to complete its mission, but its failure to do so is thought to have added even more value to the piece.

Indeed, at first it wasn’t clear if the woman that made the million-dollar bid would go through with the purchase following the artwork’s destruction, but having realized she could own something truly unique by an acclaimed artist, she decided to stick by her winning bid.

As the piece isn’t quite what it was, it’s now been given a new title — Love Is in the Bin — and been granted a certificate by Banksy’s representatives, Pest Control.

Commenting on the bizarre stunt, the anonymous European buyer said, “At first I was shocked, but I realized I would end up with my own piece of art history.” All thanks to a faulty shredder.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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