In 2022, following the horrific events of the war, Banksy returned to the streets with seven new thought-provoking pieces. Artworks by the legendary artist appeared in Ukrainian cities heavily damaged from the Russian military attacks. This act of support was received warmly by many Ukrainian people who expressed their gratitude under Banksy’s Instagram post. However, it appears that not all of his works would stay in place for a long time — recently, a leader of an organized group attempted to steal a Banksy mural in one of the Ukrainian towns. Find out who that mysterious art criminal is and what his true intentions were.
Who is the suspect in Banksy mural theft attempt in Ukraine?
A Banksy mural appeared in one of the buildings in the Ukrainian suburban town Hostomel, which was one of the first places that suffered the consequences of the Russian invasion. The stencil artwork depicted a woman wearing a gas mask and a bathrobe, with an extinguisher in her hand. The image was painted in Banksy’s distinct style right on the wall of a building that was clearly under fire – its windows are covered in black and the inside of the building is empty and lifeless.
The suspects were arrested on December 2 by the Ukrainian police representatives in the act of cutting the Banksy mural out of the wall. While their identities were not disclosed, it appeared that one of them was the environmental activist Serhiy Dovhyi, who personally came out and said that he organized the attempted theft. He told the media that he wanted to sell the mural to an auction house and buy vehicles for the Ukrainian army, using the money he would receive. Dovhyi also said that he actually planned to save the piece — according to him, the building it was on was about to be demolished.
According to Ukrainian news outlets, the Hostomel Local Council had already registered the Banksy mural as a cultural monument before Dovhyi showed up to cut it down. The suspect will now, most likely, face up to 12 years in prison for large-scale theft. The piece was recently estimated to be worth more than $245,000. Against all odds, the local government of Hostomel is currently doing impressive work at preserving other art pieces by Banksy. The Ukrainian cultural and historical heritage has suffered immensely since the war started, so their efforts to preserve it are truly admirable.