Group Suspected of Banksy Mural Theft Has Been Arrested in Ukraine
Editorial / Banksy

Group Suspected of Banksy Mural Theft Has Been Arrested in Ukraine

6 Jan 2023

In a statement made on Monday by the country's Ministry of Internal Affairs, the leader of the group that allegedly attempted to steal a Banksy mural off a house destroyed by Russian shelling in Hostomel last month could face up to 12 years in prison.

A stencil mural depicting a woman in a gas mask carrying a fire extinguisher is one of several works created by the anonymous British street artist in cities across Ukraine following Russia's invasion of the region beginning early last year.

Although left undamaged during its theft, as part of the investigation "an art expert examination" will be conducted

Although left undamaged during its theft, as part of the investigation "an art expert examination" will be conducted

Andrey Nebitov/Telegram

"A group of people dismantled the painting of the world-famous artist, tried to transport it using wooden boards and polyethylene, but was exposed by police and security forces," said the head of the Kyiv Police Department, Andrey Nebitov, in a statement on Telegram.

Other Banksy works in the area are under police protection

Other Banksy works in the area are under police protection

Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

The suspects, aged between 27 and 60 years old, who hail from Kyiv and the central Ukrainian city of Cherkasy (a city located south-east of the capital), were "detained on the spot," the head of the Kyiv region military administration, Oleksiy Kuleba, said at the time of their arrest in early December.

"I want to emphasise that Banksy's works in the Kyiv region are under the protection of the police," said Kuleba on his Telegram channel. "After all, these images are a symbol of our struggle against the enemy. These are the stories about the support and solidarity of the entire civilised world with Ukraine. Let's do everything to preserve the works of street art as a symbol of our future Victory".

Banksy confirmed to The Art Newspaper, that he had produced seven works in total in Ukraine, located in the capital and other cities in the region affected by heavy artillery and bombardment in a show of hope and support.

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Marian Lee

Marian Lee

Logistics and Communications Coordinator

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