Police in Ukraine arrested a group of people who were trying to steal the Banksy mural from the wall of a war-torn building.
According to officials, the people targeted the artwork bearing a woman in a gas mask which was painted on a wall in Hostomel, Ukraine.
The group then cut off a section of board and plaster. However, police said a number of people were arrested at the scene, and the painting has been retrieved. The police published images of the yellow wall in Hostomel with a large patch cut through to the brickwork.
Oleksiy Kuleba, the governor of the Kyiv region, posted on Telegram saying that the graffiti is undamaged and police are protecting it.
He said, “These images are, after all, symbols of our struggle against the enemy, [and] these are stories about the support and solidarity of the entire civilized world with Ukraine.”
“We’ll do everything to preserve these works of street art as a symbol of our victory,” Kuleba added.
Banksy artwork popular in Ukraine
Although Banksy prefers to maintain anonymity, he is a renowned British graffiti artist, who created several works in Ukraine last month.
Most of his artwork is featured in towns, such as Hostomel, Horenka, and Borodyanka, that were severely hit at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February earlier this year.
Last month, Banksy released video footage of his artwork in Ukraine depicting works that feature people doing daily tasks. These can be found on buildings devastated by bombardment in Ukraine.
One mural shows a gymnast doing a handstand amid the debris in Borodyanka while another depicts a Vladimir Putin look-alike being thrown to the floor by a child in a judo match.
In the sense of staying anonymous, the footage he released shows a man’s hand creating the artwork. As is common in his style, Banksy’s face was never revealed.
Besides hiding his real identity, Banksy is one of the world’s most famous artists, who rose to fame around Bristol in the UK with his stenciled designs in the early 1990s. He has a huge, worldwide following which includes A-list celebrities.
According to the press, in relation to his style and character, Banksy is frequently described as an “elusive” and “secretive” artist.
Banksy murals targeted by people before
This is not the first time the artwork of the artist has been targeted. There have been other such incidents specifically targeting the Hostomel Banksy mural before.
In 2019, a hooded gang used angle grinders to remove and steal a Banksy artwork from an emergency door at the Bataclan music hall in Paris. The artwork was later found in Italy.
For security purposes, however, other Banksy murals, have been covered in plastic sheets to protect them against damage or vandalism. This is especially common in his artwork in the UK.