Police in London raided an art gallery owned by Banksy’s former agent after they mistook a hyper-realistic sculpture of an unconscious woman for a real body, according to Artnet News. Officers assumed the model had suffered a heart attack, a gallery worker told the outlet.
Hannah Blakemore was locking up the Laz Emporium on London’s Lexington Street last month, and after heading upstairs to make a cup of tea, came back down to find “the door off its hinges and two confused police officers” inside, the news site reported on Friday.
The officers said that they had received a report of a woman who hadn’t moved for two hours, and assumed that she had “a heart attack or she’s overdosed,” Blakemore said.
Instead, they found ‘Kristina’, a life size sculpture of a woman passed out at a computer desk by American artist Mark Jenkins. The sculpture was commissioned by gallery owner Steve Lazarides, who wanted a depiction of a time his sister fell asleep with her face in a bowl of soup. Made from foam filler and packing tape and dressed in a hoodie and trainers, ‘Kristina’ is valued at $22,065, Artnet noted.
“Officers forced entry to the address, where they uncovered that the person was in fact a mannequin,” a spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police told the site. “The Met has a duty of care to respond when there is a welfare concern.”
The sculpture is visible through the gallery’s windows, and Blakemore said that paramedics were called when it was exhibited at an art and design fair in October. “The work is to provoke and it’s definitely achieving that,” she said.
From the late 1990s until 2008, Lazarides worked as an agent and photographer for Banksy, and was the first promoter to show the legendary graffiti artist’s work in a gallery.