Here are 8 important questions yet to be answered about Banksy's Sotheby's joke

adminOctober 13, 2018

We're having a lot of fun with Banksy's viral art destruction joke, which took place exactly one week ago in Sotheby's London and since then he's had the amazing world. However, funny as it may be, it raises some important questions that have not yet been answered.

We know, we know: A lot of digital ink has already been spilled on this. What more is there to say? But as it is, everything still does not add up!

The details are coming out slowly. Yesterday, the auction house issued a statement that the artist / street joker had changed the name of the work now partially destroyed, and that the buyer, a woman without a name, had decided to keep it.

At Sotheby's, it seems that all sides have won: the collector gets, if not exactly what she wanted, a great story and a job that now will probably only increase in value; Banksy gets another great price (the highest in 10 years and now the second highest recorded) and another great achievement; Sotheby's receives a ton of additional advertising and does not have to return anything or pay anyone.

However, everyone still wants to know exactly how this amazing art auction action was developed. The answers have more than trivial consequences. Here are the questions full of speculation still in our minds.

1. Then … Who is being fired?

Since the moment Little girl with balloon They came alive in the auction room, observers have suspected that Sotheby's must have been involved. His elegant press release that promotes the importance of now-renovated works of art only encourages those suspicions. However, some auction experts suggest that, as a publicly traded company, a trick like this would be too big a risk because Sotheby's needs to respond to shareholders.

The funny thing about history as it is now is how the fact that nobody believes Sotheby's when he says they were not aware really works in their favor, preventing them from having to answer some really important questions.

Imagine: if they He did not know, this would be a serious security breach. Someone hid an electronic device in a frame and activated it remotely. That's a potentially great threat category! Better I hope you are exploring your batches to detect self-destruct devices detonated remotely in the future!

When asked for a comment, a Sotheby's representative told Artnet News: "We did not discuss our security procedures, but I can tell you that at no time was anyone in danger."

2. Implications of insurance?

A boring but important issue: having an auction without suspecting a potentially cheating work of art has to raise all sorts of questions for insurers, right?

If you take seriously the idea that Sotheby & # 39; s did not notice the crusher embedded in the paint, how well could they have assessed the risks associated with any of their jobs?

Imagine: you sold a work of art that you own for $ 1.4 million that self-destructs in front of everyone. That has to raise your premiums, right?

When we asked if there was any insurance involvement or if Sotheby's had received any related questions from customers or insurers, the representative said there were none.

3. Does not this erode the client's trust?

Trying to make his own public relations for the uncertainty about Sotheby's role in this whole affair, earlier this week, Julien's Auctions in Los Angeles marked the next Banksy in its November sale with the subject of the email: "Guaranteed Not to Shred". included a comment from Darren Julien: "We can not guarantee that our Banksy [sic] will crush or explode, but they will be sold to the highest bidder. "

Froth's full report highlights a note in the Sotheby's condition report: "Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to make sure they are fit and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's it is simply a qualified and subjective opinion. " I just rated myself much more!

It would be nice to know if any of the possible bidders in the lot really did Make use of your own inspection. The fact that, for all we know (or at least, for what is said), no one suspected this trick in advance highlights how much confidence potential buyers place in an auction house to validate something.

If we were customers, and we took seriously Sotheby's official claim that he was in the dark, we would definitely take very little for granted in the future …

When asked if a worried customer had responded with these types of questions, Sotheby & s answered no.

4. who I was That mystery seller?

Supposedly, the work was acquired by the seller directly from the artist himself, Banksy, in 2006. That's all we know.

It seems that this wild tale has a happy ending for Sotheby & s, with the winning bidder so calm about all that. In any case, that does not resolve the matter. With more than a million pounds on the line, everyone risked making the final buyer cool, would not the auction house have some very serious questions for who gave them the job? We would do it!

In that way, it is worth saying that everything shows what a black box is in the art auction market. The real explosive trap of Banksy is much less reliable than some of the ethical traps that accompany the anonymous vendors.

Sotheby & # 39; s replied: "As a matter of practice, we do not comment on our customers."

5. What did Sotheby & # 39; s Instagram video that shows Banksy installing the shredder?

The video, published in the artist's account after the sale, raises as many questions as answers. When was the crusher installed? In 2006, when the work was done? Or at some later time (actually it just says "A few years ago")? Documentation has always been part of their practice, but did Banksy actually record a video of the installation more than a decade ago (pre-smartphone and definitely pre-Instagram), and kept it just in case?

Sotheby & s says he has no idea how this happened. "Like the whole art world, we were surprised," said the representative.

6. Was the market manipulation?

If, as many people speculate, the most logical person who sold the job was Banksy himself or a front for Banksy, and the trick really affected the value of a job sold at a public auction, one way or another, right? Does it count as a type of market manipulation?

In fact, if the auction house knew (or even suspected) the impending trick, gave an estimate and let the bidders believe it, knowing that some event was going to happen and that it would change its value, is not that also deceptive? ?

7. Was the buyer in this?

It's really lucky for Sotheby's that this anonymous buyer is so nice with all this (and note, oddly, that if she were an "anonymous male" buyer, people would still be guessing that it was Banksy …), but still we have to ask

It would be interesting to know what behind-the-scenes negotiations took place after (or before) the sale. The buyer says he was disappointed at the beginning when Little girl with balloon destroyed itself, but ultimately turned around.

If Sotheby & # 39; s was in the gag, as we expected them to, because otherwise they would look very clumsy, surely they would risk to irritate all the customers they called "an intense bidding battle. in the room and on the phones "?

"Like Sotheby's, the buyer had absolutely nothing to do with the joke," said the auction house spokesman. "Beyond that, we do not discuss conversations with our clients."

8. Now that we are looking at this more closely, did Sotheby really write this incredibly disparaging and vaguely prophetic description of the work?

Here is the description of the catalog for the work previously known as Little girl with balloon. (Sotheby's told artnet News that the note was written by the contemporary team in London).

"Surrounded by an ornate gold frame, an integral element of the work of art chosen by Banksy himself, the present work is a kitschy emblem of pathos. Instantly, Banksy's graffiti image is a perfect encapsulation of human emotion for the short attention span of our era of social networks: it seductively mocks the art world mentality and, in doing so, attracts many, for whom it represents a contemporary Expression of holiness, a bright and vivid symbol of eternal hope. Ultimately, however, Girl with Balloon is Banksy's godfather of art: whether you are for or against him, this image completely summarizes the immediacy and controversy surrounding the artist's mission. "

Can it be obtained instantly?

Somebody got well! We are still finding out who!

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