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Ringleader behind theft of Banksy mural could face 12 years in prison

Ringleader behind the theft of a £200,000 Banksy mural from a wall in Ukraine could face 12 years in prison, authorities say

  • The Banksy artwork was taken off a wall in the town of Hostomel on December 2
  • It depicted a woman in a gas mask and dressing gown holding a fire extinguisher
  • Ukraine’s interior ministry said the man had been handed a ‘suspicion notice’

A ringleader who was allegedly behind the theft of a Banksy mural in Ukraine could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty, authorities have said. 

The artwork, depicting a woman in a gas mask and a dressing gown holding a fire extinguisher, was taken off a wall in the town of Hostomel on December 2. 

Ukraine’s interior ministry announced on its website that the man, who has not been named, it believes orchestrated the operation had been handed a ‘suspicion notice’. 

At the time, eight culprits aged between 27 and 60 were arrested at the scene. 

The artwork, depicting a woman in a gas mask and a dressing gown holding a fire extinguisher, was taken off a wall in the town of Hostomel on December 2

Ukraine’s interior ministry announced on its website that the man, who has not been named, it believes orchestrated the operation had been handed a ‘suspicion notice’

The mural by the renowned street artist had been valued at over 9 million hryvnia (£204,288). 

‘The criminals tried to transport this graffiti with the help of wooden boards and polyethylene,’ it said. 

‘Thanks to the concern of citizens, the police and other security forces managed to arrest the criminals.’ 

While the group were successful in slicing the mural from the wall, it was retrieved without any damage. 

The artwork was first spotted in the northwest of the capital Kyiv in November after intense shelling by Russia destroyed swathes of the region. 

Head of the Kyiv region military administration, Oleksii Kuleba, said all the artworks in Kyiv linked to the graffiti artist are under police guard.

‘After all, these images are a symbol of our struggle against the enemy,’ he said.

A woman looks at a graffiti made by Banksy on the wall of a heavily damaged building in the Gorenka village, near Kyiv, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine

In this Banksy piece, a female gymnast is seen balancing on her hands on rubble at the bottom of an apartment building in Borodyanka, which was completely gutted by Russian shelling

‘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.’

Banksy confirmed he had painted the mural and six others in places that were hit by heavy fighting after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. 

Some of Banksy’s other works in Ukraine include a female gymnast balancing on her hands on rubble at the bottom of a an apartment building, which has been completely gutted by Russian shelling.

Another mural depicted a man resembling Russian President Vladimir Putin being flipped during a judo match with a little boy.

Another showed two children using a metal tank trap as a seesaw. A separate piece in nearby Irpin showed a rhythmic gymnast waving a ribbon while wearing a neck brace.

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