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The Person Accused of Trying to Steal a Banksy in Ukraine Could Face 12 Years in Prison

The work, featuring a woman with a gas mask, was cut out from the wall of a house destroyed by Russians.

The mural by England-based street artist Banksy depicts a woman in a gas mask standing on a chair and holding a fire extinguisher, Hostomel, Kyiv Region, northern Ukraine. Oleksandra Butova/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The person allegedly behind an attempt to steal a Banksy mural in Ukraine could face more than a decade behind bars, officials from the country have said.

In December, Ukraine reported that a group of people had tried to pilfer a piece featuring a woman with a gas mask that appeared on the facade of a partly ruined house in the city of Hostomel, just outside Kyiv. Hostomel had been shelled by Russian forces shortly after the initial invasion of Ukraine.

The piece was one of several by Banksy that emerged, without any fanfare leading up to their reveal on the artist’s social media, in 2022.

Details surrounding the alleged attempt remain vague, as Ukrainian officials have not provided names of those suspected of taking part in the failed effort to cut the work out of the house’s wall. According to CNN, the suspects come from Kyiv and Cherkasy.

“A group of people tried to steal a Banksy mural. They cut out the work from the wall of a house destroyed by the Russians,” Kyiv’s governor, Oleksiy Kuleba, said in a post on Telegram in December. Kuleba added that the work was in “good condition” and that “several people were detained on the spot.”

In a statement released this week, Ukrainian officials said that, “thanks to the vigilance of locals, the police and other security forces,” the suspects had been arrested.

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