Update: A spokeswoman for the billboard advertiser says it ain't so, after the jump.

Was Banksy's “Livin' the Dream” billboard art all an inside job?

That's the report being echoed in blogland this week following the British artist's whirlwind tour of L.A. last month in anticipation of his Academy Award nom for Exit Through the Gift Shop (a doc that didn't win).

We got big traffic here at the Weekly when we noted that the billboard piece above Sunset Boulevard, possibly worth six figures, was torn down and crumpled up. Now comes word that …

… the billboard advertiser, the Las Vegas club and restaurant company known as The Light Group, might have arranged to have the billboard remixed by Banksy on purpose — and that the firm actually had invested in Exit Through the Gift Shop.

We were made to understand after the billboard came down that the remains of the piece were indeed in the hands of the advertiser.

Livin' la vida Banksy.; Credit: Ted Soqui

Livin' la vida Banksy.; Credit: Ted Soqui

And the blog MELROSEandFAIRFAX, which has been all over Banksy's February work in L.A., suggests a battle between the billboard's owner, CBS Outdoor, and the advertiser, The Light Group, over the piece.

One thing isn't consistent with this theory though: We saw the thing get ripped down and crumpled up by CBS Outdoor workers with our own eyes (via TV coverage).

While we might see The Light Group having the piece commissioned (such a move has been dubbed “brandalism”), the idea that it has been preserved might be harder to swallow since it appeared to have been nearly destroyed.

Either CBS Outdoor f'd up and didn't know the deal or this rumor is just that — a rumor.

Update: Beth Bartolini, spokeswoman for The Light Group, says the notion that the company actually put Banksy up to tagging its billboard is “just not true.”

She adds that the company indeed has the artwork and that, although it indeed did appear to be ravished and crumpled up when it was taken down, it's in decent shape and “in tact.”

“We definitely are going to hang it up somewhere and display it,” she told the Weekly.

First posted at 12:09 p.m.

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