Back in 2004, Banksy's bronze sculpture The Drinker was stolen from a public exhibition on a small square in central London by the rebellious art group Art Kieda. The sculpture went missing for over a decade and plenty of rumours about its whereabouts circled the art scene. But now almoust 11 years later the artwork magically resurfaced. Art Kieda has finally returned the famous artwork but not before making a few alterations to the statue.
Andy Link aka AK47 is a former porn actor, producer and a football hooligan, that reinvented himself and turned into a conceptual artist and a leader of a network of arto-politcal activists known as Art Kieda. His unusual and unique art technique consists of "borrowing" art pieces made by other artists, modifying them to a certain extent and then returning them. In the past, this group has organized numerous urban interventions that consisted of putting traffic cones on existing public sculptures around the globe. In one of their more notable interventions, they have stolen Just Love Me neon sign by Tracey Emin and then returned it after two weeks, with rose bouquets attached as a sign of an apology. The artwork was left in a nearby skip as a reference to a Tracey Emin's piece that was accidentally thrown in skip during a building renovation. The "kidnapping" of Banksy's The Drinker is often considered as their biggest triumph.
It all started more than a decade ago when AK47 bought a £75 print by Banksy. Having mutual friends with the celebrated street artist, AK47 asked them to get into contact with Banksy and ask him to sign the print, but got a negative answer. According to the Independent, Banksy replied that AK47 "shouldn’t be such a cheap Northern bastard and should have paid more for a signed copy". The former porn star was offended by this remark, but claims that the theft wasn't an act of revenge, but "a matter of principle" and that it was done "to expose faeces of modern art". In 2004, The Drinker was installed in a small square in central London and AK47 and his group "kidnapped" the large, heavy sculpture in broad day light. After the hijack, AK47 tried to get a £5000 ransom for the statue, but got a £2 counteroffer that he denied.
The Drinker statue represents a humorous imitation of the celebrated Auguste Rodin's statue The Thinker. Now Banksy's artwork got a humorous makeover as well. The art group that returned the artwork renamed the statue to The Stinker, and added a few objects that correspond with the new name. The toilet seat and a flusher were incorporated into the sculpture and words "take the piss on its plinth" stenciled on the bottom. Even though the statue is back where it belongs, it's highly unlikely that the fraud will end here. Art Kieda and their leader are now planing to film a movie and the funds for filming were already gathered via a crowdfunding campaign. The film will be entitled The Banksy Job and it will "explore important and interesting contemporary themes about the rise (and possible death) of street art, its place in modern culture, and the debate surrounding ownership and hype". We're looking forward to its release.
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Featured images: The Drinker by Banksy Before it was Stolen in 2004 via Independent and AK47 in The Banksy Job Trailer ; All images are via The Banksy Job Facebook page unless otherwise credited, Images for illustrative purposes only