The comic, Joan Collins and 'Banksy'

Tory adviser dupes Stephen K Amos

Stephen K Amos has been duped into believing he met notoriously secretive graffiti artist Banksy.

The comedian was invited to a lavish dinner party hosted by Joan Collins, where he was told the elusive guerrilla artist would be revealing himself in public for the first time.

The entire event was filmed, and was intended to be sold to broadcasters on the strength of Banksy’s appearance. At the Oxfordshire country house where the dinner party was being hosted, Amos said: ‘If Banksy’s here, I’m getting some art. That’s my mortgage!’

However, the man introduced as Banksy was, in fact, a bit-part actor called Bryan Lawrence.

Collins, too, was unaware of the duplicity, dreamt up by colourful entrepreneur Ivan Massow, a former adviser to William Hague, as were fellow guests Tamara Beckwith and Ann Mitchell, a stage actress.

The scam was only uncovered when Massow, who made and lost a fortune selling insurance targeted at gay men, went to The Mail on Sunday with his story. The newspaper investigated further, and revealed the truth.

After he was exposed, Massow, a former head of London's Institute of Contemporary Art, said: ‘To pull off what was such a massive art fraud would have been really quite spectacular. I wanted to investigate the nature of what’s real and what’s not real.

‘I knew it would be spotted eventually, as I had put lots of clues in the film, like the fact that the chef was actress Helen Lederer and the waitress was Orlando Bloom’s sister Sam.’

The film of the event, Banksy's Coming For Dinner, will be released on DVD and online next month and is billed as ‘a study of our crazed adoration of celebrity and society’s overwhelming need to consume.’

Production notes from the film say: 'The guests have arrived and are assembled in one of the reception rooms, making small talk over cocktails with Joan, an incredibly gracious hostess, the centre of attention. The group dynamic changes with the arrival of Banksy and the balance of power tilts towards him.’

Here is a trailer:

Published: 3 May 2009

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