Italy returns to France a Banksy stolen from Bataclan

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It represents a sad-looking girl: Italy officially returns to France on Tuesday a work attributed to Banksy, a tribute to the victims of the November 2015 attacks in Paris, stolen in 2019 and recently found in a farm not far from Rome .

The “Banksy Gate” is to be exhibited at the Farnese Palace in Rome, which houses the French Embassy in Italy, in the presence of Ambassador Christian Masset, the Chief Prosecutor of Aquila, capital of the Abruzzo region (center) where it was found in early June, and the general of the carabinieri in charge of the defense of cultural heritage.

The date and conditions of his return to France have not been disclosed. According to the Italian agency Agi, it could find a case at the headquarters of Unesco in Paris, information which has not been confirmed by the UN body.

The work attributed to the famous British street artist Banksy had been painted in 2018 on one of the emergency exits, located behind the Bataclan, in the passage through which many spectators of the Eagles of Death Metal concert had escaped during the terrorist attack.

Stencilled and painted white, the work depicts a young girl with a sad air, as a tribute to the very place where 90 people were killed on November 13, 2015, during a series of jihadist attacks who hit the French capital and Saint-Denis, in its suburbs.

The criminals, hooded, took it by cutting the door with the grinder on the night of January 25 to 26, 2019. The scene was filmed by video surveillance cameras.

Six people were arrested in late June in France during a vast operation led by the direction of the judicial police of Paris, in the Alps and in central regions.

Two of them were charged with organized gang theft and the other four with concealing organized gang theft.

According to Agi, two of the suspects are Italians born in France and a total of eight people have been arrested, while an alleged accomplice is on the run.

– An artist at the heart of the debate –

Banksy, who likes to keep his identity secret but is one of the most highly regarded in his community, struck a big blow in June 2018 by disseminating a series of stencils, sometimes with a very political tone, in the French capital.

He had claimed authorship of eight works on his Instagram account, including the sad silhouette on the door of the Bataclan, a diversion from the painting “Napoleon crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David, a little girl drawing a pink tapestry motif on a swastika near the former “first reception center” for refugees in Paris. Or a small rat with a masked snout brandishing a pencil (or cutter), near the Center Pompidou.

This last work, “made on the back of the entrance panel” of a car park, was also stolen in early September 2019. The Center Pompidou, which houses important collections of contemporary art, had filed a complaint “for theft and damage, within a space within its perimeter “.

Banksy, who likes to play with the media as well as the art market, is today one of the most highly rated contemporary artists in the world.

In cities like Paris, London, New York, his works offer a wonderful spotlight on subjects at the heart of societal debates, such as the question of refugees. If in Paris elected officials were delighted with his artistic “invasion”, the problem of their possible theft or damage inevitably arose.

In October 2018, the buyer of a reproduction of one of Banksy’s most famous images, “Girl with Balloon”, sold for almost 1.185 million euros at Sotheby’s in London, was surprised to see the canvas. partially self-destruct thanks to an ingenious mechanism hidden in its frame, partially cutting the image into thin vertical strips.

In recent weeks, he has reproduced on his Instagram account a drawing showing, next to the portrait of a black man, a burning candle setting fire to the American flag, in tribute to George Floyd. Or the drawing of anonymous people unbolting a statue, a reference to attacks on monuments or statues of historical figures linked to slavery or colonization.

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