Man arrested after £500K Banksy artwork removed from street with bolt cutters

A MAN has been arrested after a £500,000 Banksy artwork was removed from a street sign with bolt cutters.

The red stop sign featuring three military drones appeared in Peckham, South London, on Friday.

Police are probing the alleged theft of a £500,000 Banksy artwork after a man was seen cutting it down with bolt cutters
Police are probing the alleged theft of a £500,000 Banksy artwork after a man was seen cutting it down with bolt cuttersCredit: PA
The sign appeared in South London on Friday but was removed just hours later
The sign appeared in South London on Friday but was removed just hours laterCredit: banksy/Instagram

But just an hour after the elusive graffiti artist confirmed it was his, two men were seen taking it down.

Footage shows one of them balancing on a Lime bike at the junction of Southampton Way and Commercial Way at about 12.30pm.

After cutting it free he runs off down the street.

It is understood Banksy was not behind the removal.

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A man has since been arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage, the Met Police said.

A spokesman for the force added: “This incident is currently being investigated by officers from the Met’s Central South CID.

“We are aware of footage being shared which shows the sign being removed.

“Anyone who may have information about the incident or the whereabouts of the sign is asked to call police.”

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One member of the public said they “watched in awe” as a man “bashed it with his hands”.

‘Alex’, 26, who cycled over to observe the sign, said: “Two minutes later he reappeared with bolt cutters and just sort of tried and tried and tried while everyone was watching.

“We said ‘what are you doing?’ but no one really knew what to do, we sort of just watched it happen.”

Fans of Banksy have interpreted his latest piece as a political statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident but modern art gallery owner John Brandler suggested it could be a “publicity stunt”.

He told the BBC: “I think it if it came up at auction it would be worth £250,000 to £500,000.

“If I am being cynical, I think he did it as a Christmas present for someone.”

Southwark Council’s Jasmine Ali said the her council informed the Met of the removal.

She added: “I have every confidence they will get it back. We are not just talking about a street sign here, it is a work of art which was put there for the community.”

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