New Banksy Artwork Stolen Less Than an Hour After It Was Installed (UPDATE)

Two unmasked men removed the latest piece from the UK artist in broad daylight on Friday afternoon.

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UPDATED 12/23, 3:45 p.m. ET: A suspect has been arrested in connection to the new work by Banksy.

According to the BBC, the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation after the art piece, a “Stop” sign with military drones over it, was removed by two unmasked men with bolt cutters in broad daylight just an hour after the anonymous artist revealed it on his Instagram page. The police are reportedly treating the incident as theft.

The broadcaster now reports that a man has been arrested and remains in custody.

“We are aware of footage being shared which shows the sign being removed,” said a spokesperson to the BBC, adding that anyone with information related to the incident or the whereabouts of the road sign should call police.

Police officials also say they installed a new traffic sign to avoid endangering others.

Southwark Council’s deputy leader Jasmine Ali has confirmed that the incident was reported to the police and said she was confident they would get it back, adding, “We are not just talking about a street sign here, it is a work of art which was put there for the community. It is street art and it is for the people.”

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A new work by Banksy appears to have been stolen in broad daylight.

The anonymous UK street artist’s latest work that features three military drones over a stop sign was stolen by two unmasked men less than an hour after it was unveiled on his social media, according to the New York Post.

Footage emerged online of two unidentified men using bolt cutters to break the artwork off of a traffic pole in south London on Friday afternoon. One of the men stood on top of a rental bicycle to reach the sign while the other man held the bike in place for him.

“This guy comes up and grabs it, we watched in awe as he bashed it. He put the Lime bike under the sign, stood on the Lime bike, and tried to hit the sign, he hit it with his hands and it wasn’t going anywhere,” said witness Alex to the Evening Standard. “He fell off the Lime bike at one point. He disappeared and went away and about two minutes later he reappeared with bolt cutters and just sort of tried and tried and tried while everyone was watching.”

Alex continued, “He ripped it off and ran across the road and ran away. He said nothing. He didn’t seem to care that much about the art itself.”

It’s unclear if the robbery was part of a stunt organized by Banksy, who has yet to respond to the incident on his social media. 

The last post on the artist’s Instagram page was the unveiling of the piece, which some believe is a response to the Hamas-Israel war. Comments warning Banksy about the piece are the ones with the most engagement with one follower writing, “You know there's a geezer unbolting that right now ready to sell it on eBay.”

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