Group attempts to steal Banksy mural in Ukraine

Governor of Kyiv region says police are now protecting the area

The Banksy mural in Hostomel before it was removed. Getty
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A group of people tried to steal a mural by graffiti artist Banksy in Ukraine on Friday by cutting it off the battle-scarred wall it was painted on, the governor of the Kyiv region said.

The group managed to slice off a section of board and plaster bearing the image of a woman in a gas mask and dressing gown holding a fire extinguisher, painted on the side of a scorched building in the city of Hostomel near Kyiv.

But they were spotted at the scene and the mural was saved, Oleksiy Kuleba said in a statement.

The image was still intact and police were protecting it, he added.

“These images are, after all, symbols of our struggle against the enemy … We'll do everything to preserve these works of street art as a symbol of our victory,” he said.

Banksy, whose work can sell for millions of dollars on the art market, confirmed he had painted the mural and six others last month in places that were badly affected by heavy fighting after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

A Banksy artwork is seen after municipal guard and police detained criminals who tried to steal it in the town of Hostomel, Ukraine. Head of the National Police of Kyiv region / Reuters

One of the murals shows a girl gymnast performing a handstand on a small pile of concrete rubble. Another shows an old man having a bath.

Police published images of the yellow wall in Hostomel, with a large patch cut all the way back to the brickwork. A number of people were arrested at the scene, they said.

Russia's war in Ukraine is now in its 10th month. Moscow's forces were pushed back from around Kyiv in the first phase of the war, but fighting rages on in the east and south.

Updated: December 03, 2022, 8:33 AM