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Man Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Stealing a Banksy in France


Girl chasing a balloon by Banksy
Street art by Banksy was stolen in France. Man sentenced to two year prison sentence.

In a recent ruling, a French court handed down a two-year suspended prison sentence to Mejdi R., a 38-year-old musician, who was caught attempting to steal a piece of artwork by the enigmatic British graffiti artist Banksy. The artwork in question, a stenciled image of a masked rat holding a box cutter, had been created by Banksy in 2018 on the back of a parking sign near the Centre Pompidou in Paris. This particular piece had garnered significant attention and admiration for its clever design and its placement in a bustling urban area.

Mejdi R. admitted to using an angle grinder to remove the painted portion of the sign, a move that ultimately led to his arrest and conviction. In his defense, the musician claimed that he was a friend of Banksy and had been summoned to retrieve the artwork. According to him, he was part of a larger "team" that had already returned to England with the rat. Despite these assertions, the court found his actions to be unauthorized and deemed his claims insufficient to justify the attempted theft.


Eiffel tower in Paris, France.
Frenchman steals Banksy artwork and gets caught.

The case highlights the ongoing challenges faced by public art and the legal complexities surrounding its preservation and ownership. Banksy's works, known for their provocative social commentary and elusive nature, often sit in public spaces where they are vulnerable to vandalism or theft. The court's decision to impose a suspended sentence reflects a recognition of the cultural value of the artwork and sends a message about the importance of protecting public art from unauthorized removal. The outcome underscores the need for continued vigilance and respect for artistic expressions in public domains.


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