Two Men Arrested After Stealing Banksy Installation in Broad Daylight


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Less than an hour after Banksy confirmed a new installation in South London, it vanished. But how is not a mystery. Two men were filmed taking down the traffic sign, which was covered in three planes that resembled military drones. The videos of two men taking bolt cutters to the stop sign were widely circulated on social media, with police already making arrests in the case.

This latest Banksy installation went up in the southeast district of Peckham, and while the elusive artist posted it to Instagram without a caption, it's largely believed to be a call for a ceasefire in Gaza. The artist has a long history in the region, with many of his iconic pieces going up in the West Bank, including his iconic girl holding a balloon.

As soon as Banksy posted the image, followers began commenting that it would soon be stolen. And, indeed, they were correct. The video shows one man holding a bicycle steady for another to climb on with bolt cutters. After prying the sign loose, they ran off.  The stop sign was then swiftly replaced by the city as a matter of public safety.

“We said, ‘What are you doing?’ but no one really knew what to do, we sort of just watched it happen,” a witness told a local news outlet. “We were all a bit bemused, there was some honking of car horns. He ripped it off and ran across the road and ran away. He said nothing. He didn’t seem to care that much about the art itself.”

A day later, local police arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with the crime. According to authorities, he has been released on bail. A second arrest was made the next day, with authorities stating that the man is in his 40s without releasing further details.

The drone imagery in relation to the West Bank is not uncommon for Banksy. The BBC points out that similar imagery was used in the artist's 2017 Walled Off Hotel, which opened in Bethlehem with a view of the Separation Barrier. At the time, the artist released the following statement: “2017 marks a hundred years since the British took control of Palestine and helped kick start a century of confusion and conflict.”

A new piece by Banksy, interpreted as a call for a ceasefire in Gaza, went up in London.

Embed from Getty Images

Less than an hour after Banksy confirmed authorship, the sign was stolen.

Embed from Getty Images

The two men, who were filmed in the act, have both been taken into custody by police.

Embed from Getty Images

Banksy: Instagram | Website
h/t: [The Guardian]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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