Photo by Thomas Samson / Getty Images
On Friday night, a van full of thieves descended on the Bataclan and stole the anonymous artist Banksy's tribute to the victims of the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, Reuters reports.The stencil, which depicted a somber woman in a headscarf, has been removed from the concert venue's fire door entirely. It was one of a slew of pieces the artist posted to his Instagram account—his way to publicly authenticate his guerilla-style work—during his summer 2018 residency in the French capital, the New York Times reports. The Bataclan announced the stencil had been stolen on Twitter Saturday morning.
Stealing Banksys and selling them for fat stacks of cash is, sadly, pretty common. His work is peeled from walls or, in many cases, carved from the concrete or brick facades where he left it, and has been sold to private collectors for upwards of $1 million. Reclaimed and restored versions of his work populate countless unauthorized art shows and auctions all over the world, from Rome to Toronto to the Hamptons. In 2014, an exhibit of unauthorized works by the artist opened in London for a show literally titled Stealing Banksy—something he called "disgusting."These unauthorized collections are often put together by moneyed institutions like The Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, a bank which the Italian artist Blu once protested by destroying all of his artwork in the city of Bologna to prevent thieves from selling it to collectors. Aside from subverting the artist's intention, unauthorized shows can also be a security risk, proven by the dude who snatched a $45,000 Banksy print from an exhibit in Toronto.To be fair, ownership is foggy when it comes to street art, but there's little grey area regarding who the mural at the Bataclan was for—which makes this theft particularly heinous. As the venue wrote in French on Twitter, "The work of Banksy, a symbol of remembrance belonging to all: locals, Parisians, citizens of the world, has been taken from us.”Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.Follow Beckett Mufson on Twitter and Instagram.