This article was originally published on VICE Netherlands
Some time in late 2007, a 1989 Mercedes 420 SEC was shipped from Amsterdam to the USA. At the same time, an envelope containing an X-ray was sent the other way.
The Mercedes belonged to Aernoud Bourdrez – a lawyer, writer and gallerist based in Amsterdam. A few weeks earlier, he'd made a deal with the owner of the X-ray, Jackass star Ryan Dunn. Theirs must be one of the weirdest trades in recent history; they agreed to exchange a picture for a car. You probably know the X-ray I'm talking about, it features prominently in Jackass: The Movie. It was taken right after Dunn stuck a toy car in his own arse.
The photograph arrived in Amsterdam a few days later, but Dunn never got to drive the Mercedes. American customs wouldn't let it enter the United States, because it didn't meet American safety regulations. Understandably, Dunn wasn't happy and threatened to sue Bourdrez if he didn't return the X-ray immediately. Desperate to keep the shadow photograph of a stuntman's rectum, the lawyer then offered Dunn a DAF 46 – a Dutch car that one can drive backwards as fast as forwards. Dunn accepted, the DAF passed US customs and Bourdrez got to keep the X-ray.
Four years later, Dunn died in a tragic traffic accident. The X-ray is still on display in Bourdrez's gallery in Amsterdam, but now it's for sale. I met Bourdrez to ask why he traded two cars for the X-ray of someone's arse.
VICE: Hi Aernoud, what made you want to own this X-ray in the first place?
Aernoud Bourdrez: In my life I have seen things that made me think, "What the hell is this?" Jackass is one of those things. When I watched Jackass: The Movie, I thought: "I got to have this X-ray." As a lawyer, I specialise in copyright law and Dunn's X-ray is also a unique piece in that light. X-ray scans aren't normally protected by copyright law, but this one is.
So how did you go about acquiring it?
I just sent Ryan Dunn a letter. It's easy to make things happen when you have money but that doesn't excite me, and I don't think the Jackass guys care that much about money either. So I tried to come up with something that would trigger his curiosity. Through my job, I've learned that giving people a story can get you a lot further than just giving them money. I'd bought that Mercedes in the spur of a moment, but I'd had enough of it at that point. So I offered the car for the picture, and Dunn thought that was a good deal.
But the Mercedes never passed customs.
No, it did not. Apparently, cars in the US must have a different kind of bumper, and there was also an issue with the safety belts. I could have all of that fixed for $8,000 but I thought that was too costly. So I thought of offering Dunn the DAF. I sent him some footage of reverse races, and he loved it.
Did you ever get the Mercedes back?
People ask me that question a lot. I did not get the car back but I don't really care. It probably went up for auction. Somebody in the US must be driving it now. Maybe I should try to trace it – that might be fun.
Are you a Jackass fan?
I think it's genius.
What is the stupidest stunt you ever pulled yourself?
When I was younger, I used to tie my rollerblades or my mountain bike at the back of cars on the streets of Amsterdam and New York. That was really dangerous, and once I almost died doing so. I was holding on to a car riding my rollerblades, when another car hit one of my wheels. The whole lower side of one skate broke, and I narrowly avoided getting stuck underneath the car. But I don't do that kind of stuff any more.
Why did you decide to sell the butt X-ray now?
I feel that my part in the story of the X-ray is done. I don't think its journey is complete, though. Hopefully someone will make me an interesting offer. So far, this one guy has offered to trade the X-ray for a Porsche. I found that very funny, because the story began with a German sports car, and this way it would end with a German sports car too! A good story is worth a lot more than money.