8 men convicted in theft of Banksy artwork from site of 2015 Paris terror attack

PARIS — Eight men were convicted in a French court on Thursday for the theft and handling of a painting by British street artist Banksy, which paid tribute to the 90 victims killed in a terrorist attack at a Paris concert hall.

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The mural, known as “sad girl,” was stenciled as a tribute to the 90 people killed in a Nov. 13, 2015, terror attack at the Bataclan music hall in Paris, the BBC reported.

A hooded gang removed the artwork from an emergency door at the concert hall with angle grinders in January 2019, the news outlet reported. It was found 18 months later in Italy in the attic of a rural farmhouse, according to the BBC.

Three men who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences. One received a four-year term and two were given three-year sentences, The Guardian reported. They will not have to serve behind bars but instead will wear electronic tracking bracelets, according to the newspaper.

A 41-year-old man, a millionaire lottery winner and a street art fan, was given a three-year sentence for handling stolen goods, The Guardian reported. He will also wear an electronic bracelet.

Three other defendants were found guilty of transporting the door and a 58-year-old hotel owner in Italy was given a six-month suspended sentence, according to the BBC.

“I think it’s a wise decision by the court,” Romain Ruiz, the attorney of one of the defendants, told CNN. “The verdict recognizes the facts as they are.”

All but one of the defendants were from France. The eighth man was from Italy, the cable news outlet reported.

The mural was painted on a door that leads into an alley used as an escape route by spectators who had been watching a concert by Eagles of Death Metal on the night of the attack, the BBC reported.

In addition to the 90 deaths at the concert hall, another 416 people were injured.

The identity of the British street artist, noted for his political commentary, has never been officially revealed. He is noted for a series of satirical graffiti pieces that appeared on buildings in the United Kingdom, the BBC reported.

In 2020, Banksy created a mural in time for Valentine’s Day. In December 2019, a dark manger scene was unveiled at a hotel in Bethlehem in the Israeli-controlled West Bank. That work was called “Scar of Bethlehem.”

In October 2018, “Girl With Balloon,” a painting by Banksy, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in London for more than $1 million, the BBC reported.

As soon as the winning telephone bid was verified, Banksy’s most recognized work passed through a shredder that was installed in the frame, the network reported.

The shredded version, renamed “Love is in the Bin,” sold at auction for $25.4 million in October 2021, The New York Times reported.

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