New Banksy Was Stolen Within an Hour

Stop sign with drones painted on it didn't last long on London corner
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2023 11:35 AM CST
New Banksy Was Stolen Within an Hour
A person runs off with the sign in Peckham, southeast London, Friday Dec. 22, 2023.   (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

Somebody in London is in possession of an extremely valuable stop sign but they're not going to find it easy to sell. The Banksy artwork, three military drones painted on the sign, was stolen within an hour of it going up on a corner in Peckham, south London on Friday, the Guardian reports. Two men were caught on video using bolt cutters to remove the sign before one of them ran off with it. Before the theft, the artist confirmed it was genuine with a post on Instagram. "This sign will be stolen within the next few hours," one commenter accurately predicted. Banksy's Instagram followers interpreted the sign as a call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

"We said, 'What are you doing?' but no one really knew what to do, we sort of just watched it happen," one witness to the theft said, per the AP. "We were all a bit bemused; there was some honking of car horns." Jasmine Ali, a spokesperson for the local council, says the theft was reported to the Metropolitan Police. "I have every confidence they will get it back. We are not just talking about a street sign here, it is a work of art which was put there for the community," she says. "It is street art and it is for the people."

Some of Banksy's art has sold for tens of millions of dollars, but the artist refuses to issue certificates of authenticity for work that has been stolen or otherwise improperly removed from the public domain, and some people have been prosecuted for trying to sell stolen Banksys, the Guardian reports. Gallery owner John Brandler, who suspects the theft might have been a publicity stunt, estimates that the sign could fetch up to half a million pounds, around $635,000, if it was sold at auction. "It could easily be higher," he tells the BBC. "The media attention has made it more valuable." (More Banksy stories.)

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