The highly secretive British street artist Banksy revealed on social media in November that he was in Ukraine, to show his support for the embattled nation through seven murals.
One showed a girl gymnast standing on her hands in the middle of a pile of rubble. Another, an old man who took a bath in a bombed-out block of flats.
A third featured a small boy throwing a grown man to the ground during a judo match, a clear reference to the judo-loving Russian president.
The fourth picture was of a lady standing on a chair, wearing a gas mask, and with the fire extinguisher ready.
Yesterday, the lady’s painting was attempted to be stolen.
A gang tried to cut off the outermost part of the wall on the wall, in order to take the lady with them, the governor of the Kyiv region, Oleksij Kuleba, told the Reuters news agency.
Unfortunately for the perpetrators, they were observed and the police notified. They were thus caught red-handed and the police took over the carved piece of wall.
The governor states that the mural is undamaged and is now with the police.
So do eight men, suspected of having been involved in the theft in various ways.
– These paintings are the last in a series of symbols of our fight against the enemy. We will do everything to preserve these graffiti works, as a symbol of our victory, Oleksij Kuleba told Reuters.
The pictures are now under police protection, says the governor.
The artist few know who is
The British artist – whose real identity is unknown – is the world’s most famous graffiti artist.
At auction, some of the artworks have gone for over NOK 100 million.
The paintings often have a political message combined with a slightly irreverent humour.
In 2019, a large Banksy painting depicting British politicians as chimpanzees in the British Parliament was sold for just over NOK 111 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London.
It was probably NOK 100 million more than the previous price record, which was set the year before. But the buyer, who had paid NOK 11 million, was shocked to see that the picture “Girl with Balloon” shredded itself through a mechanism hidden in the frame.
Escape using the emergency exit door
It is not the first time Bansky has gone to conflict areas to show his solidarity.
Murals by the Briton can be found both in Bethlehem and in Jerusalem, as well as in big cities such as New York, Paris and London.
Nor is it the first time someone has attempted to steal a Banksy work. In 2019, a door to an emergency exit in the Bataclan concert venue was stolen.
Banksy had painted a grieving girl on the door. The girl was painted on one of the emergency exits in the concert hall where militant Islamists killed 90 people during a concert on the evening of 13 November 2015.
The door image was found again the following year on an uninhabited farm in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Eight people have been sentenced for the theft.