A painting in homage to terror victims by the world-famous graffiti artist Banksy has been stolen from the Bataclan concert venue in Paris, where Islamist gunmen killed 90 people in 2015.
Hooded thieves were filmed on CCTV in the early hours of Saturday cutting the image of a sad-faced girl from the emergency door of the theatre. The robbers drove off in a white van, witnesses said.
François Vauglin, mayor of Paris’s 11th arrondissement, said: “This silhouette was made by the artist for free. It was an altruistic gesture to pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack and their loved ones, and I find it very sad that people have grabbed it without thinking about everything it represents.”
The Bataclan attack was the most murderous of a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people on November 13, 2015.
The stencilled white painting was found one morning in June last year on a back door to the Bataclan in the Saint-Pierre Amelot alleyway beside the venue. Banksy, who is British, had painted it overnight and later acknowledged it as his work, along with a number of other Paris street paintings.
Police investigators are trying to trace the thieves and recover the artwork, estimated to be worth millions. An alarm inside the Bataclan was reportedly set off around 4:25 am and police found a screwdriver beside the spot the painting was taken from.
Last year a Banksy print worth thousands of pounds was stolen from an exhibition of the artist’s work in Toronto.
The Bataclan management tweeted their “profound indignation” that a “symbol of remembrance belonging to all: local residents, Parisians, citizens of the world, has been taken from us. Banksy offered this artwork on the emergency door of the Bataclan for a reason, in a spirit of homage and support as an urban artist”.
They said the painting “only had meaning in that location, which is why we wanted to leave it there, free, in the street, accessible to all.”