Eight people detained by Ukrainian authorities over stolen Banksy mural

Banksy artwork in Ukraine

Eight people have been detained by Ukrainian authorities over the attempted theft of a Banksy mural from a building in Hostomel, a city near Kyiv.

As reported by The Guardian, authorities said the mural of a woman in a gas mask holding a fire extinguisher was cut out of the wall it occupied on Friday (December 2). Kyiv’s governer, Oleksiy Kuleba, shared the news in a post on messaging platform Telegram, where he wrote: “A group of people tried to steal a Banksy mural.”

“They cut out the work from the wall of a house destroyed by the Russians. Several people were detained on the spot,” he said, adding that the image had been retrieved by authorities and was “in good condition”.

“These images are a symbol of our struggle against the enemy,” continued Kuleba. “These are stories about the support and solidarity of the entire civilized world with Ukraine. Let’s do everything to preserve the works of street art as a symbol of our future victory.”

Kyiv’s police chief Andriy Nebytov added that the eight people identified were aged between 27-60, and came from Kyiv and Cherkasy.

The stolen mural is one of seven done by Banksy since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. In a recent video shared to Instagram, the anonymous artist revealed a number of artworks in particularly ravaged parts of the country, such as Borodianka. These include a bearded man taking a bath, two children using a tank trap as a seesaw, a gymnast doing a handstand on a pile of rubble, and another with a ribbon caught around her neck.

Some have speculated that another mural – a young boy throwing an older man to the floor in a judo match – is a depiction of Russian president Vladimir Putin, whose black belt in the sport was revoked this year.

It’s not the first time Banksy’s artworks have been stolen from the streets on which they were painted. A mural painted by the artist in Paris was taken in 2019, with thieves using angle grinders to remove it from a wooden door.

The mural, which depicts a hooded woman in mourning, was a tribute to the victims of the 2015 terrorist attack at Bataclan music hall, where 90 people were killed. The stolen artwork was later recovered in Abruzzo, Italy.

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