France arrests six people over Banksy work stolen from Bataclan

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PARIS –
Six people have been arrested in France for the theft of a work of art by street artist Banksy commemorating the victims of the 2015 Paris attacks stolen from the Bataclan concert hall, sources said on Saturday. The suspects were arrested across France this week after the artwork, an image of a grieving girl painted on one of the emergency doors in the Paris hall, was found in Italy at earlier this month, judicial and police sources told AFP.

Two people were charged with theft on Friday while the other four were charged with concealing theft, the sources added. All six were placed in pre-trial detention.

The door with the illustration was cut out and taken in January of last year at Bataclan, where ISIS gunmen massacred 90 people in a bloody attack in Paris in November 2015.

French and Italian police said two weeks ago that they found work – still in good condition – in the attic of an abandoned farm in east-central Abruzzo, Italy.

His theft – which was filmed on surveillance footage of hooded figures using an angle grinder to cut the door – had caused “deep outrage,” Bataclan said last year.

It was “a symbol of meditation and belonging to all: the locals, the Parisians, the citizens of the world were taken from us,” said the place.

“SYMBOLIC AND EMOTIONAL VALUE”

One of the French police officers who intervened during the attack on Bataclan in 2015 was present when the door was found, Christophe Cengig of the organized crime unit of the French embassy in Rome told AFP .

“It was a very emotional moment for my colleague,” he said.

“Come here, find it … it has a strong symbolic and emotional value, so we are very, very, very happy”.

The dramatic white stencil of a sad-faced girl on a black door was created when the artist “blitzed” the French capital with murals during a 2018 lightning trip.

Works by Banksy, known for their distinctive style, irreverent humor and stimulating themes, were found on the walls, buildings and bridges of the West Bank during Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.

At auction, they sold for more than a million dollars.

Banksy is believed to have started as a graffiti artist in London, although he kept his identity a secret.

The Bataclan door is not the only one of his works to have been stolen in Paris.

Others include a mural of a businessman in a suit offering a bone to a dog, who has just sawed off the animal’s leg, and a picture of a masked rat wielding a cutter, which has disappeared from outside the Center Pompidou.

Some of the stolen works have since been recovered and fans have covered part of his street art in Paris with plexiglass to protect them.

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