Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 2 July 2020

Six arrested in France over stolen Banksy artwork marking Bataclan terror attack

The Banksy work painted on a door of the concert hall commemorates the victims of the 2015 Paris terror attacks

Six people have been arrested in France over the theft of an artwork by street artist Banksy commemorating the victims of the 2015 Paris attacks.

The piece was stolen from the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people died in an ISIS terror attack.

The suspects were arrested across France after the artwork – an image of a girl in mourning painted on one of the Paris venue's emergency doors – was found in Italy earlier in the month.

On Friday two people were charged with theft and four others were charged with concealing theft.

All six people have been placed in pretrial detention.

The attack targeting the Bataclan concert hall left 90 dead. AP
The attack targeting the Bataclan concert hall left 90 dead. AP

The Bataclan door containing the artwork was cut out and taken away in January last year.

French and Italian police revealed they had found the artwork two weeks ago in the attic of an abandoned farmhouse in Italy's central eastern Abruzzo region.

Its theft, which was caught on surveillance videos showing hooded figures using an angle grinder to cut the door out, had caused "deep indignation," the Bataclan said last year.

It was "a symbol of recollection and belonging to all: locals, Parisians, citizens of the world has been taken from us", the venue said.

One of the French policeman who intervened in the 2015 Bataclan attack was present when the door was found.

"It was a very emotional moment for my colleague," Christophe Cengig from the Organised Crime Unit at the French embassy said.

"Coming here, finding it … it has a strong symbolic and emotional value, so we're very, very, very happy."

The emotive white stencil of a sad-looking girl on a black door was created when the artist "blitzed" the French capital with murals during a whirlwind trip in 2018.

The Banksy artwork was first seen on a side street to the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. AFP
The Banksy artwork was first seen on a side street to the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. AFP

Works by Banksy, known for their distinctive style, irreverent humour and thought-provoking themes, have been found on walls, buildings and bridges from the West Bank to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.

At auction, they have sold for more than $1 million (Dh3.67m).

Banksy is believed to have started out as a graffiti artist in London, although he has kept his identity a secret.

The Bataclan door is not the only one of his works to have been stolen from Paris.

Others include a mural of a businessman in a suit offering a dog a bone, having just sawed the animal's leg off, and an image of a masked rat wielding a box cutter, which disappeared from outside the Pompidou Centre.

Some of the stolen works have since been recovered and fans have covered some of his Paris street art with Plexiglas to protect them.

Updated: June 29, 2020 06:57 PM

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