Police thwarted an attempt to steal a mural painted by enigmatic British street artist Banksy from a wall on the outskirts of Kyiv, officials said.
The painting, an image of a person in a gas mask and nightgown holding a fire extinguisher, went missing Friday after thieves removed it from the wall of a war-battered home, Kyiv governor Oleksiy Kuleba said in a Telegram post.
“A group of people tried to steal a Banksy mural. They cut out the work from the wall of a house destroyed by the Russians,” Kuleba said.
The artwork was recovered by Kyiv police, who arrested eight people in connection with the theft.
“All were aged between 27 and 60 years old,” Kyiv police chief Andrey Nebytov said, the Guardian reported. “They are residents of Kyiv and Cherkasy.”
The painting was one of seven created by the mysterious street artist across Ukraine last month, including a mural of a female gymnast balancing on a pile of rubble and a young kid in a karate outfit slamming an adult opponent, both in Borodianka.
Another one featured showed a young boy flipping Russian president Vladimir Putin on his back in a judo match.
“I want to emphasize that Banksy’s works in the Kyiv region are under protection from the police,” Kuleba said on his Telegram channel. “After all, these images are a symbol of our struggle against the enemy. 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.”
Kuleba added that “consultations regarding the storage and future fate of the mural” were being conducted by authorities, the community, and representatives from Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy.