Dhe legendary street artist Banksy announced in mid-November that he had created a total of seven pieces of graffiti art in Ukraine. Now a group of eight people between the ages of 27 and 60 have tried to steal a mural by the artist in the Kiev suburb of Hostomel, said the police chief of the Kyiv region, Andriy Nebytov, on Friday. The group managed to cut off part of the war-damaged wall, which features an image of a woman in a gas mask and dressing gown holding a fire extinguisher on the side of a burned building.
The governor of Kyiv, Oleksiy Kuleba, confirmed to the British “Guardian” that the piece had been seized. The picture is intact and is being protected by the police. The head of the gang is a Kiev native born in 1990. A motive was not initially known. The police took action after a call from residents. They had watched the picture being cut out of the thermal insulation. The Ministry of Culture has now also been called in to decide on the further fate of the picture.
Banksy confirmed he had painted the mural and six others over the past month in locations hit by heavy fighting following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. He was responsible for the artworks in various locations in Ukraine, including both in the capital Kyiv, as well as in the suburbs of Irpin and the city of Borodyanka, each of which was badly damaged by Russian bombing. One picture shows a girl doing a handstand on the rubble. Another shows a small judo fighter forcing an adult opponent who looks suspiciously like Vladimir Putin onto the mat.
Although his works often fetch millions at auction, Banksy’s identity and age remain a mystery. Even when the British University for the Creative Arts wanted to give him an honorary professorship, the chair remained empty. It is considered certain that the artist comes from the western English city of Bristol.