The art world will closely follow the action at Sotheby's today, as a rare, early Banksy artwork goes under the hammer. The piece, an outline of a large, tumescent male member and accompanying testicles, was discovered on the wall of a school gym in Bristol. The highly influential work inspired numerous artists to adopt his style on walls and text books throughout the country.
Experts are divided on the exact date of the piece, but Mr Norris, the school caretaker, is sure it is at least 25 years old. "I remember white-washing over it as soon as it was discovered. Fortunately, that preserved most of the fine detail of the spray paint, and three of the four 'jizz lines'", Mr Norris explained.
If Mr Norris is correct, the artwork would be the earliest known Banksy, created when he was just 13. An experimental work from his 'Pubist' period, it already shows signs of his trade-mark wit. "He wrote 'Melvin is a nob' underneath one of the balls. I must say, that captured the zeitgeist of both pupils and staff alike. Melvin really was a complete tool", Mr Norris chuckled.
The provenance of Banksy's 'street art' is always hard to prove, as the artist refuses to authenticate any of his graffiti. However, Mrs Phelps, the school deputy head, has uncovered some startling documentation. "We found a letter in the school archives, confirming the identity of the pupil who created this. The letter states 'I will not draw genitalia on school property' 500 times. And he's finished it off with a witty flourish in the margin". Producing a magnifying glass, Mrs Phelps continued: "Look, it says 'Melvin's still a nob' down the left-hand side, in really tiny writing. It's such a wonderful act of defiance against authority."
Art experts have identified the paint used for the work as 'Purple Haze', which supports the theory that much of Banksy's materials were taken from his father's shed. "His dad had a purple Ford Cortina at the time, I remember it well", an anonymous peer confirmed. Analysis of other artworks from the area suggest that his father later traded in the Cortina for a Capri, but refused to pay extra for metallic.
"We respect Banksy's privacy, so we won't be revealing the real name of our alumnus", Mrs Phelps stated firmly. "However, we will allow the winning bidder to guess who he was from a class photograph. What's more, Mr Norris will also lend them his wheelbarrow, to help them get the gym wall into the back of their car".
Mrs Phelps hopes that another early work, a rare nude of his muse Stacey Binks, could be uncovered. "Mr Norris remembers painting over a representation of the female breast and the slogan 'Stacey luvs it', but he can't remember where. It's great social commentary. All the staff suspected she was the school bike."