Banksy Mural Theft Ringleader Faces Up to 12 Year Sentence

During an unpublicized trip to Ukraine last year, Banksy painted seven new murals in the city of Hostomel, near the capital of Kyiv, amidst the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia. One of the seven works depicts a curly-haired woman who’s dressed in a gas mask and gown while holding a fire extinguisher. The spray-painted mural is pasted on the yellow exterior walls of a house destroyed by Russian shelling.

This particular work became the target of an orchestrated heist as a group of men chiseled the painting from the wall while pretending to be representatives of a French charity. While on the scene, the group of thieves was confronted by a local who raised his suspicions to the authorities. Police later arrived at the scene, arresting five men and recovering the graffiti mural in good condition. The artwork, which is currently being held at the police station, is said to be valued at 9 million hryvnias (approximately $244,000 USD).

The suspect that orchestrated the operation has been served a notice of suspicion, and if convicted could face up to 12 years imprisonment. The ringleader maintains that the other men involved were unaware of his intentions as he assured them he had the permits to dismantle the mural.

“These images are a symbol of our struggle against the enemy,” the head of the Kyiv region military administration Oleksii Kuleba wrote on Telegram. “These are the stories about the support and solidarity of the entire civilized world with Ukraine. Let’s do everything to preserve the works of street art as a symbol of our future victory.”

In other news, The British Museum is in talks to return several Parthenon marbles back to Greece.
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