Police in Hostomel, a small suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, arrested eight people who officials said were attempting to steal one of the murals that Banksy had painted there last month, according to the Guardian. The looters were detained after having allegedly removed the portion of wall on which the mural is set.
The mural, which depicts a figure in a bathrobe sporting hair curlers, a fire extinguisher, and a gas mask, appeared on a building that Ukrainian officials said was shelled by Russian troops.
It is one of seven works that Banksy painted around the bombed-out buildings of Ukraine in November. Other murals feature a small boy throwing a grown man to the ground during a martial arts match, a bearded man scrubbing his back in the bath, and two gymnasts. The murals were first revealed to the public via Banky’s Instagram account.
“A group of people tried to steal a Banksy mural. They cut out the work from the wall of a house destroyed by the Russians,” Kyiv’s governor, Oleksiy Kuleba, said in a post on Telegram, according to multiple news outlets.
“Several people were detained on the spot,” he added. “The image is in good condition and in the hands of the authorities.”
The British artist’s mural work has been targeted in the past. In 2019, a gang of thieves cut out a Banksy mural painted on an emergency exit door of the Bataclan theater in Paris. The mural, showing a veiled woman in mourning, was created in 2018 as a memorial to the 139 people who were killed in the 2015 terrorist attacks on the French capital city. Eight people were arrested. They stood trial, and were found guilty of the theft.