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Italian police recover stolen Banksy tribute to victims of Bataclan attack

A mural by secretive British street artist Banksy that was stolen last year from the Bataclan theatre in Paris, where Islamist extremists killed 90 people in 2015, has been found in a farmhouse in central Italy, police said on Thursday.

The work, one of a series of murals painted  in June 2018 in the French capital, was painted on an emergency exit door of the theatre, and shows a veiled female figure staring mournfully downwards.

Thieves stole the mural in January last year, apparently using portable grinders to remove the fire-exit door before carrying it off in a van, the daily La Repubblica reported.

Magistrates in the central Italian city of L’Aquila said the mural was recovered on Wednesday morning from an attic.

Emanuele Mazzotta, a police commander from the nearby town of Alba Adriatica, said the mural had been found in a house in the countryside, but it appeared that the occupants may not have been aware of the value of the artwork or what it was.

The L’Aquila prosecutor’s office said the Banksy work was recovered on Wednesday during a search of a home in Tortoreto, a city near the Adriatic coast in the Abruzzo region’s Teramo province. (Ufficio Stampa Carabinieri/Handout via Reuters)

“The man who, on the other hand, brought the Banksy mural inside the house, had total control over it. He had free access to the house, and the door was placed in the upper part of the attic,” he told a news conference.

The Bataclan, one of Paris’s best-known rock venues, was stormed by militants during a concert in November 2015, as part of co-ordinated attacks around the city that killed 130 people.

Banksy, who keeps his real identity secret, has become one of the most distinctive personalities of the modern art scene with a series of witty artworks in public places that mix street art techniques with powerful political points.

Banksy responds to George Floyd death

He has most recently reacted to the death of Black American George Floyd after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

He published an artwork on June 6 depicting the United States flag being set alight by a candle that forms part of a memorial to an anonymous, black, silhouetted figure.

He also proposed a new presentation of the toppling of 17th-century slave owner Edward Colston that was brought down by protesters in the artist’s home city of Bristol.

“Here’s an idea that caters for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t,” Banksy said on Instagram.

“We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life-size bronze statues of protesters in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”

Colston made a fortune in the transatlantic slave trade, and later donated to a range of charitable causes in Bristol. Several streets and buildings in the city bear his name.

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