UK & World News

  • 26 February 2014, 12:38

Banksy Wall Mural Theft Foiled By Neighbours

An attempt to steal a mural made by graffiti artist Bansky has been foiled in New Orleans.

Police say the owner of a building had reported someone trying to steal a chunk of the cinderblock wall bearing the painting, known as Umbrella Girl.

The work of art shows a mournful girl holding an umbrella from which rain pours onto her, as she extends a cupped hand into the open air around her.

Recently several residents noticed plywood had been erected around the wall, hiding the painting.

Photographer Cheryl Gerber was told that the painting was going to London for a big show.

She posted a photo on Facebook with the message: "Bye Bye Banksy! My neighborhood's most famous little girl is moving to London."

When Clay Lapeyrouse, operations manager at Louisiana Fresh Produce, saw the post he realised something was wrong and went to the site to take a look for himself.

He asked the two men he found at the vacant building for a work permit but they were unable to provide one.

They told him the building's owners wanted to send the painting to a museum, but did not give further details.

Mr Lapeyrouse immediately called the police and reported them.

New Orleans resident Charlie Varley also saw a man chopping at the wall.

He said the man told him he was a Los Angeles "art handler" working for the building owners, who were sending it to the Tate Modern - one of four Tate museums holding Britain's national art collection.

British artist Bansky is well known in New Orleans, where he made more than a dozen murals in 2008. Most of the paintings are related to the 2005 hurricane Katrina.

Banksy's works have sold at auction for more than £650,000.

Police spokesman Garry Flot said authorities were currently investigating this case but the identities of the suspects remain unknown.