A Banksy work was stolen from the back of a road sign outside the Centre Pompidou.

Christy Kuesel
Sep 3, 2019 5:09PM, via BBC

An artwork by street artist Banksy on a billboard in the 3rd district, on June 26, 2018 in Paris, France. Photo by Aurelien Morissard / IP3 / Getty Images.

A Banksy piece stencilled on the back of a road sign outside of the Centre Pompidou has been stolen, the museum announced Tuesday. The work features a rat with a mask tied over his face holding a box cutter. It was enclosed in plexiglass for protection, but the museum suspects thieves cut it out with a saw.

According to the BBC, The Centre Pompidou said in a statement:

We are sad to inform you that Banksy’s work of art facing our building on rue Beaubourg was stolen during the night. Although this piece was not part of our collection, we are proud that the artist had chosen the side of our building to create it, as an homage to the events of May︐68. We are filing legal complaint.

Although Banksy rarely claims credit for his graffiti, the artist posted a photo of the piece to Instagram a few days after it was installed in June of last year. He captioned the photo, “Fifty years since the uprising in Paris 1968. The birthplace of modern stencil art.” alluding to demonstrations against then-President Charles de Gaulle and for political reform.

In January of this year, another Banksy piece, painted as a tribute to the victims of the 2015 terrorist attack at the Bataclan music venue, was stolen from the music hall. The work, which featured a stencilled image of a girl in mourning, was never recovered. Banksy installed both pieces, among numerous others, in Paris last year.

Banksy, the anonymous England-based street artist, has gained notoriety in recent years through his activist works, often composed with spray paint and stencils. He frequently uses the image of the rat to symbolize the downtrodden, drawing inspiration from Paris street artist Blek le Rat. Last year, his work Girl with Balloon (2006) was sold for $1.3 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London before the work shredded itself.

Christy Kuesel