Man Receives Two-Year Prison Sentence for Stealing a Banksy Artwork in France

After trying to steal a Banksy in Paris, a man received a two-year suspended prison sentence from a French court on Wednesday.

The mysterious British graffiti artist had stenciled a masked rat holding a box cutter on the back of a Paris parking sign, near the Centre Pompidou, in 2018. The 38-year-old musician Mejdi R. admitted to using an angle grinder to remove the painted part of the sign.

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The man claimed to be a friend of Banksy and said he’d been called to retrieve the artwork, along with a “team” of people who had already returned to England with the rat.

The defendant went on to say that the artist wanted to stop others from making money from the street art of “no value”, and to “denounce the hypocrisy of a capitalist system that decides which art had value and which does not”, the National News reported Thursday.

According to the prosecutor, a Banksy representative has denied these claims.

As part of his sentencing, Mejdi R. was also ordered to pay a fine of €30,000 ($32,000). More than €6,500 ($6,950) must be paid in damages to the Centre Pompidou, as it was deemed the custodian of the stolen work.

In response, Mejdi R has said that he was only “degrading a metal plate” not stealing a cultural asset.

The artwork remains missing. In 2018, Banksy created murals across the French capital city. He authenticated the rat with the box cutter on his Instagram page.


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