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5 Banksy Artworks That Were Stolen Or Damaged

The conservation of urban art has proven to be a challenge, especially when it's stolen... or a Banksy!

The theft of artworks is a phenomenon that is increasingly mutating from the complicated and careful work of stealing from a museum, gallery, or private collection, to theft on public streets, which is only a result of new expressions of urban art such as those popularized by Banksy.

A couple of years ago, an original Banksy was stolen literally from the wall at the Pompidou Center in Paris; however, this is not the first theft of this type nor a Banksy work.

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Pompidou Cultural Center

The work in question was the famous rat with a pencil decorating the back entrance of the parking lot at the iconic Parisian cultural center. The institution had made various efforts to protect it, such as placing a plexiglass plate on it. In July 2018, a year earlier, the center's agents also prevented an attempted robbery. 

However, on September 1, 2019, the metal panel was cut off with a saw. The Pompidou Center filed a legal complaint against the theft, even though the work was not part of its catalog. 

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Man concealing a saw

Also in Paris, in mid-June 2018, a new Banksy appeared on the streets. It showed a man offering a bone to a dog while hiding a saw on his back. It was reported missing some months later.

The back door of the Bataclan

After the tragedy occurred in this famed music venue, Banksy made this piece to honor the victims of the terrorist attack on the emergency door of the theater. In January 2019, this one was also stolen. According to reports, Banksy returned to intervene the replacement door with a phrase addressed to the "rats", that is, the criminals who stole the piece.

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Pulp Fiction

One of the walls near the Old Street tube station in London featured an image from Pulp Fiction, with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta holding bananas instead of guns. In 2002 the piece was covered by a group of transport system workers. 

Brexit Mural

On the side of a building in Dover, England, there was a piece of art dedicated to the Brexit issue in which a worker was removing one of the golden stars of the European Union flag. This work was covered with white paint and there is even a scaffolding in front of this wall of the building. So far, it has not been clarified what happened at the site and why the work was completely covered. 

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Toronto art exhibition

During the preparation of an exhibition dedicated to the artist, a man entered the Toronto warehouse, took one of the pieces (Trolley Hunters), and immediately left the place. The piece was valued at 38 thousand dollars. This theft triggered a great controversy as some believed that it was a publicity strategy for the exhibition, as the surveillance video was even distributed by the city police, while others suspected that it was an act carried out by the artist himself.

These have not been the only cases in which Banksy's work has disappeared or has been damaged. On multiple occasions, his works have been completely destroyed, and in others, the places adjacent to his pieces have decided to cover them in an attempt to safeguard the works and prevent them from being damaged or intervened by third parties. 

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Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards
Photos: Wikimedia Commons / Diario de Cultura / Thisiscolossal.com / AFP / Wikimedia Commons / AP / BBC

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