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12 A stolen work by Banksy resurfaces in an Italian loft

A stolen work by Banksy resurfaces in an Italian loft


In January 2019, following a commando operation worthy of a bank robbery including grinders and balaclavas, a work by Banksy painted on a door at the Bataclan in tribute to the victims of the 2015 attacks, was stolen. After a year and a half of searching, the painting has finally been uncovered by police in the attic of an Italian house.


Painted in white on an ebony black background, the young woman looks at the floor weeping. In June 2018, Banksy did this stencil work outside the Bataclan in commemoration of the 90 victims of the attack carried out in November 2015 at the Parisian music venue. The painting was done on one of the very emergency doors through which many spectators at the Eagles of Death Metal concert had tried to escape from the terrorists.


But these days Banksy’s work rouses more than just a little interest. While often only meant to be ephemeral, his stencilled art works have achieved a level of fame that sees them going for staggering prices, just like the work Girl with balloon” which in 2018 was sold for more than a million pounds at auction. Thus, during a commando-esque operation in January 2019, a group of robbers armed with a grinder succeeded in cutting the black door off the building, taking with it the portrait of the women consumed with grief. Provoking vast indignation, the theft triggered a prompt response from a mysterious web-user named Bryan S Gaakman, anagram of "Banksy anagram" and one of the artist's pseudonyms. Relaying the 'wanted' notice shortly after the crime, he also organised a fundraiser for the victims of November 13th, raising many questions about his true identity.


Wednesday June 10th finally saw the long-awaited moment: during a joint operation by French and Italian police, the work stolen from the Bataclan was finally rediscovered “well hidden” in the attic of a Tortoreto house in central Italy, the Aquila prosecutor announced on Thursday June 11th. Victim of its symbolic weight, this tribute was apparently almost impossible to sell, at least on the legal circuit. The authorities are still trying to determine the origin and the reasons for the crime.


This theft was far from the first for the artist, whose works are regularly looted, even very recently. On May 6th, the artist donated his painting “Game Changer” to an NHS hospital. Two days later, a man entered the hospital armed with a drill, and tried to steal the work before the security services intervened.