Banksy's stolen painting at the Bataclan theatre in Paris.
Banksy's stolen painting at the Bataclan theatre in Paris.
Image: Getty Images / Chesnot

Early Saturday morning, an alarm went off at the Bataclan theatre in Paris. It is most famous these days as the site of the terrorist attack in 2015 that left 90 people dead. When police arrived last week, they found an emergency door had been ripped from its hinges and all that remained was a screwdriver on the ground. The reason for the door’s removal? It was the site of a piece of art by the world’s most famous and elusive street artist, Banksy, who had painted an image of a veiled, mourning figure on it in tribute to those who died in the attack, during a visit to Paris last year.

Thieves removed the door and its work in less than 10 minutes and didn’t seem to give a hoot about what it might have meant symbolically to the people of Paris.

Because of the nature of the works and the celebrity attached to their author, Banksy pieces have often been the victims of theft, and destruction

In a tweet on Sunday, the Bataclan wrote, “We are today filled with a deep sense of indignation. The work of Banksy, a symbol of remembrance belonging to all — locals, Parisians, citizens of the world — has been taken from us.” In a simultaneous statement released on Instagram the theatre added, “The very essence of street art is to give life to a work of art in a specific environment, and we are persuaded that this work has no meaning except in this place. This is the reason why we wished to leave it, free, on the street, accessible to all.”

Because of the nature of the works and the celebrity attached to their author, Banksy pieces have often been the victims of theft, and destruction - either by other artists or, as in the infamous Christie’s auction incident last year, by the artist himself.

Banksy’s official Instagram has yet to make any comment on the theft of the Bataclan mural but in 2008 the artist did make a statement expressing his frustration with the increasing incidents of his work being removed, in which he advised, “For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs, I’d encourage people not to buy anything by anybody unless it was created for sale in the first place.”

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