Paris auction house braces for Banksy sale after shredding

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A man takes a picture of an artworks by street artist Banksy prior to an Artcurial French auction house sale at in Paris. (AFP)
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A woman stands near an artworks by street artist Banksy prior to an Artcurial French auction house sale at in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 24 October 2018
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Paris auction house braces for Banksy sale after shredding

  • The Banksy works have been on show at Artcurial’s elegant auction house on the Champs-Elysees roundabout
  • ‘Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one’

PARIS: 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, said.
“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.
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 realize 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.


R&B star Alicia Keys to host 2019 Grammy Awards

Updated 16 January 2019
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R&B star Alicia Keys to host 2019 Grammy Awards

  • Alicia Keys will replace James Corden, British-late night comedian, who hosted two years in a row
  • Numerous female performers are contending for the awards this year

LOS ANGELES: American singer and songwriter Alicia Keys will host the Grammy Awards next month, she announced Tuesday, one year after the gala came under fire over diversity concerns.
Keys -- herself a 15-time Grammy winner -- will be the emcee for music's biggest night, which this year features a diverse slate of women and hip hop artists as leading contenders.
"I know what it feels like to be on that stage, and I know what it feels like to be proud of the work that you've put in and to be recognized for it," Keys said in a video posted on social media.
"I feel like it's the perfect opportunity for me to give the light back and lift people up -- especially all the young women that are nominated," she added.
"To me, it feels like sister vibes."
Keys replaces James Corden, the British-late night comedian who has hosted the awards the past two years.
Since releasing her blockbuster album "Songs in A Minor" in 2001, classically trained pianist Keys has sold more than 30 million records and become a successful film, television and Broadway producer.
Her appointment as Grammy host comes after the Recording Academy -- which organizes the event -- faced backlash that the show is consistently too male and too white.
Academy head Neil Portnow said in May he would step aside when his contract expires later this year, after he triggered outrage after saying women artists should "step up."
"A dynamic artist with the rare combination of groundbreaking talent and passion for her craft, Alicia Keys is the perfect choice as host for our show," Portnow said in a statement.
Rap superstar Kendrick Lamar is leading the Grammy pack with eight nominations, propelled mostly by his work on the "Black Panther" soundtrack.
Women performers also boast a heavy presence in top categories after being largely snubbed a year ago.
Rapper Cardi B, pop diva Lady Gaga and folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile all nabbed key nominations for the show, which will take place on February 10 in Los Angeles.