Two men were arrested on Tuesday (February 5th) as part of an investigation into the theft of a stencil by British artist Banksy in Paris in early September, media reports said.
The police arrested the suspects, aged 32 and 35, in Seine-et-Marne and in the Val d’Oise, specifies the agency France-Presse (AFP) who refer to a source close to the investigation. They were placed in police custody on commission of an investigating judge.
At this stage of the investigation, it is not yet clear whether these are thieves or simple receivers.
Investigators seized Banksy’s works during the searches, but the one stolen near the Beaubourg museum has not been found, according to media reports. An appraisal must establish whether they are originals or copies.
Disappearance of graffiti
The graffiti stolen near the Pompidou center on the night of September 1 to 2 represented a small rat with a muzzle covered with a scarf that brandishes a pencil (or cutter).
Painted on the back of a traffic sign marking the entrance to the museum parking lot, the design was covered with a protective plexiglass plate. The thieves cut the panel which was more than three meters high.
Banksy’s works in Paris
In June 2018, Banksy, who likes to keep his identity secret, but who is one of the most highly regarded artists in his community, disseminated six stencils in Paris, sometimes with a very political tone.
He then claimed authorship of eight works on Instagram, including the little masked rat at the Pompidou center. In the photo caption for this work, he wrote: “Fifty years after the Paris uprising in 1968. The birthplace of modern stencil art”.
At the end of January 2019, another Parisian stencil claimed by Banksy and representing a woman in a position of meditation in homage to the victims of the 2015 attacks, was stolen from a Bataclan door.