It is not uncommon for street art to be painted over, removed by authorities, or stolen, even if it is a work by the world-renowned artist Banksy. The artist himself treats this as part of the creative process and rarely refers to instances of his artwork being destroyed. For the general public, however, each occasion of vandalism of a Banksy work is almost as eventful as its appearance. On December 22, the famed street artist posted an image of his new creation on his Instagram. That same day, two unidentified individuals took the Banksy artwork down and ran away with it.
New Banksy Artwork Was Stolen Right After It Appeared in London
A new Banksy artwork was spotted on one of the streets in the South London neighborhood of Peckham. The piece consisted of a stop sign with military planes against a red background. After the artist claimed his new anti-war art on his Instagram account, a crowd gathered around the stop sign. But not everyone in the crowd was there just to look: some decided to take the piece for themselves. Two people tried to punch the sign to make it fall but abandoned that idea and returned armed with bolt cutters. When they succeeded in dismantling the sign, they left the site.
Stealing a valuable, unguarded work of art may seem like a quick way to make money to some, but it is actually easier said than done. Because of the artist’s fame, it is difficult to put a stolen Banksy piece up for sale: the authorities would be notified, and it would be taken off the auction. The only option left is to sell it privately, and even then, avid collectors are reluctant to get their hands on something illegally acquired.
This is not the only incident of Banksy’s work being stolen in 2023. Several months ago, a group of people were arrested over an attempt to steal a Banksy mural on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine. Later that year, three men were jailed for stealing a Banksy painting in Paris.
Will the London police be able to locate the stop sign? Was it part of the art performance? These questions remain unanswered. Banksy, in his turn, has not commented on the situation in any way.