What would you do if your pièce de résistance was swiped from under your nose? Back in March 2004, that’s exactly what happened to notorious Banksy. The guerrilla artist illegally erected a ten-foot, £25,000 statue in a small square in central London. People walked by, snapped some pics on their brick phones and didn’t post them to Instagram (which was clever of them, since Instagram wasn’t invented until 2010).
Modeled after Rodin’s famous statue “The Thinker”, Banksy’s rendition was dubbed “The Drinker”. It was up for mere weeks before masked thieves carted off the statue in broad daylight and sent a ransom note to Banksy along with “pictures of the sculpture with gaffer tape over his eyes and mouth,” Banksy told The Guardian. The artist generously offered £2 for the safe return of his statue, but the offer was refused.
The culprit identified himself as AK47, the “charismatic leader of an underground global network of arto-politikal terrorists calling themselves Art Kieda.” Now AK47 and his group of underground art terrorists are the subject of a new documentary The Banksy Job, currently looking for backers on crowdfunding website Indiegogo. Part heist thriller, part documentary, the film aims to detail the aftermath of this mammoth art stunt.
“This is one of those stories you can’t quite believe is true, which is what makes it so interesting,” say the team behind the doc, Dylan Harvey and Ian Roderick Gray. “(There is the) theft and destruction of the statue, the artists, gangsters, AK47’s private anarchist army, and then there are the struggling artists, still waiting to get paid for building the statue.”
While the theft was dramatically chronicled in The Guardian, the film’s producers feel there is more story to tell. “The great thing about this project is that we don’t know where it’s going to go next. With AK47’s plans to rebuild the statue and sell it as a Banksy original, our third act is yet to be written, and that is an exciting prospect.”
Part crime thriller, part documentary, The Banksy Job tells the story of masked thieves who pulled off one of the art world’s biggest stunts.
ExplosiveIDEAZ wants to let everyone know; Yes, it’s true the statue has gone. “We received a ransom note with pictures of the sculpture with gaffer tape over his eyes and mouth. It looked quite good, actually. And we then received a bit of him in the post. A bit of his shoulder blade, I think, said BANKSY.
Banksy, it has to be said, does not sound distraught. Is he willing to pay a ransom? “It depends how much they’re asking, I suppose.” He pauses. “Actually, I’m quite glad to be shot of him. The thing is, I live in a flat so I’ve not really got space – it’s three and a half tonnes, you know.”
Also, he says, when it comes down to it, he doesn’t think the Drinker is that good. “The trouble is, I don’t know much about sculpture and mistakenly thought Rodin was just famous by accident and that I’d be able to pay somebody a couple of hundred quid to do a perfect copy of the Thinker. But it turns out he’s really good, and we couldn’t copy it properly – it’s not as easy as stencils – so it didn’t quite look like we wanted.”