A stenciled work by the street artist Banksy was stolen from the Bataclan nightclub in Paris over the weekend, the club announced on its Twitter and Instagram Saturday. The mural, depicting a young woman in a head scarf, her face made of abstract flowers, was placed there in memory of the November 2015 terror attack on Paris, during which 90 attendees of an Eagles of Death Metal concert at the club were killed by militants affiliated with the Islamic State.
“The very essence of street art is to give life to a work of art in a specific environment, and we are persuaded that this work has no meaning except in this place. This is the reason why we wished to leave it, free, on the street, accessible to all,” the Bataclan management wrote in a statement in French on Instagram. The @bataclanofficiel Instagram account also commented with several broken-heart emojis on Banksy’s original photos of the work. It was located on an emergency exit door from the club; security footage shows the thieves cutting the door out and driving off with it. The whole theft, as Bataclan director Florence Jeux told NBC, took less than 10 minutes.
Banksy first posted the work to his Instagram last summer, during a short period around World Refugee Day when he also hit the city with graffiti near the Pompidou Center, the Porte de la Chapelle, and the Sorbonne. (Though there was apparently some initial doubt as to whether the pieces were genuine, the artist seems to have owned up to them on his social media.) Because his works, many of which grapple with politics and social justice issues, are located in public spaces, accessible to all, they’re especially susceptible to forgery and theft. His reclusivity, the mystery surrounding his persona (he may or may not be Massive Attack member Robert Del Naja), add to the cachet—and literal value—of the works. Unauthorized art shows featuring his work are a regularity—in 2014, Vice recently reported, there was a show entitled “Stealing Banksy”; the artist denounced it, calling it “disgusting”—and a documentary about the theft of an entire Banksy-tagged wall in Palestine premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival. Still other pieces have simply been painted over, sometimes by other street artists; sometimes, they destroy themselves.
So there’s an inherent peril to art left on the street for all to see. But there’s something especially disquieting about the theft of a piece left in tribute to the victims of a terror attack, something especially sad about a theft that so entirely disregards the interaction between the art and its location, as the Bataclan team alluded. Street art is, by its nature, ephemeral, but that doesn’t make it fair game.
The Best Memes of Banksy’s Self-Destructing Art Stunt
A rather more to-the-point illustration of Banksy’s move to shred Girl With Balloon.
The DYI T-shirt version of Banksy’s self-destructing stunt.
A belligerent Brett Kavanaugh getting the same treatment as Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony.
McDonald’s is practically the apotheosis of Banksy’s targets—and, thanks to the Austrian ad agency DDB Vienna, the winner of the best corporate take on his move.
The Mona Lisa—the most renowned “piece of art history”—getting the Banksy treatment.
An art-world follow-up to the terrifying manicure that circulated this past February, depicting Kylie Jenner’s first photo of her daughter, Stormi Webster.
What does Zac Efron have to do with all of this? Who knows, but here he is in a very Photoshopped shredded Banksy crop top.
Accompanying the tweet of this image was the caption, “As the gavel went down on the Senate confirmation vote, an alarm started going off, and the Constitution began to shred itself.”
Banksy al dente.
When life gives you potatoes, make like Banksy.
How much of the world felt this past week tuning in to a Make America Great Again–hat–wearing Kanye West’s unreal face-off with Donald Trump in the Oval Office.
In another country where politics can often resemble a reality TV show—as of this past September, Vladimir Putin literally became the star of what is essentially Keeping Up With the Kremlin—the Constitution of the Russian Federation also went through the shredder, IRL in St. Petersburg.
And in other news of political turmoil, an image of Brazil’s flag meeting its demise began to circulate following what one political correspondent described as the “mourning Bolsonaro’s resounding first round triumph,” aka the first electoral go-ahead of the country’s openly sexist and homophobic presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.
On a much lighter note, off in New Jersey, one dog owner did her best to turn her pet Leo’s trimmings into a “million-dollar haircut.”
In case you’re still in the market for a Halloween costume—and your partner is willing to go out in public dressed as a paper shredder.
As if the dystopian feel of Edvard Munch’s The Scream weren’t already palpable.
A friendly reminder that even before it self-destructed, the sale of the spray-paint work marked an all-time auction high for a work solely by Banksy