Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

Banksy artwork stolen from the Bataclan in Paris discovered stashed in attic of Italian farmhouse

Mystery surrounds the discovery as police say they still do not know who stole the work

Major Cristophe Cengig presents the recovered Banksy artwork. EPA
Major Cristophe Cengig presents the recovered Banksy artwork. EPA

Police in Italy have unveiled a Banksy artwork that was discovered stashed in the attic of a farmhouse, 18 months after it was stolen from a door of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

The stenciled work depicts a veiled girl in mourning, and was painted by the elusive street artist in 2018 as a tribute to the 90 victims killed in the 2015 terror attack at the venue.

The work was stolen in January 2019, with CCTV images showing hooded men cutting the work away from the stage door with angle grinders, before driving off in a van.

The Banksy artwork was first seen on a side street to the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. AFP
A man takes a photograph of an artwork by street artist Banksy in Paris on a side street to the Bataclan concert hall in 2018. AFP

Until now, police had no information on the work’s whereabouts. However, on Wednesday, it was discovered in the attic of a farmhouse in the Italian town of Tortoreto, Abruzzo.

Police said a Chinese family were renting the farmhouse, but they appeared to have nothing to do with the theft. However, Emanuele Pipola, a colonel in the Carabinieri police, confirmed that the owner of the house did have access to the attic.

The artwork was presented at a press conference on Thursday, with police admitting they still had little idea of who stole the work. No arrests have been made.

“We don’t have solid information on why it was brought to Italy and in particular Abruzzo,” said prosecutor Michele Renzo. “What is important is that we have recovered a work that records a tragic event and that is a symbol of the fight against terrorism.”

The discovery was the result of a joint investigation by French and Italian police. One of the French officers involved in the investigation was present at the 2015 terror attack, it was revealed.

“It was a very emotional moment for my colleague. We've known each other for 20 years. He intervened at the Bataclan attack. What he saw inside, such tragedy, all those bodies. This is a huge achievement for him,” said Major Christophe Cengig, from the organised crime unit of the French embassy in Rome.

The door will be subject to forensic testing before being returned to the Bataclan concert hall. Staff there have been informed of the find and are “thrilled”.

"It belongs to the Bataclan, it belongs to all of France in a sense," Major Cengig said.

The work was part of a series painted by Banksy in Paris in 2018 to mark 50th anniversary of the 1968 Paris student uprising.

Updated: June 12, 2020 12:30 PM

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