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Stolen Banksy tribute to victims of 2015 Paris attack returned to France from Italy

It was found in the attic of an abandoned farmhouse in the eastern Italian region of Abruzzo last month.

italy-recovered-banksy Fraech Ambassador to Italy, Christian Masset, right, and Italian prosecutor Michele Renzo pose next to a recovered stolen artwork by British artist Banksy Domenico Stinellis Domenico Stinellis

AN HOMAGE TO the victims of the 2015 Paris attacks by street artist Banksy has been returned to France after the stolen work was found in Italy. 

The image of a young girl in mourning was painted with stencil and white paint on an emergency door of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris where Islamic State gunmen killed 90 people nearly five years ago.

It was found in the attic of an abandoned farmhouse in the eastern Italian region of Abruzzo last month.

The chief prosecutor of Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo, and the head of Italy’s police in charge of cultural heritage handed over the work to France’s ambassador Christian Masset at a Bastille Day ceremony. 

The work will be exhibited at the French embassy and sent to France later today.

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, works by the artist – who keeps his identity secret – have sold for more than $1 million.

Theft captured on video 

Hooded thieves had managed to nab the Bataclan work by cutting through the metal door of the club, a scene captured on video by surveillance cameras.

Last month, six people were arrested in France over the theft. Two were charged with robbery in an organised gang and the other four with receiving stolen goods. 

Works by Banksy, now one of the world’s most highly regarded contemporary artists, often shine a spotlight on social issues, such as migration or racism. 

In recent weeks, he has posted on his Instagram account a drawing showing a lit candle setting fire to the American flag above a picture of a black man, in homage to George Floyd, the US man whose death in police custody ignited protests across the country. 

He has also posted a drawing of people pulling down a statue, a reference to attacks on monuments or statues of historical figures linked to slavery or colonisation.

© AFP 2020