Three pieces by the street artist Banksy have been seized by police as part of a criminal investigation in southeast Wales. Gwent police seized a sculpture, a satirical screen printed portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth, and one other work by the artist.
The sculpture, titled Grappling Hook, was created by Banksy in 2017 for a political exhibition at The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. The artwork depicts an acrylic Jesus figure on a wooden cross that is also a “military-grade grappling hook”. In September 2019, Sotheby’s auctioned a signed edition of the sculpture and an original cardboard box for £93,750 ($130,264). Monkey Queen is a screenprinted color poster series Banksy made in 2003. Sotheby’s has sold at least seven editions of the poster between £13,750 and £47,880 ($19,215 to $64,674 today) at several different auctions between September 2019 and April 2022.
The Evening Standard, which first broke the news, reported that court documents showed Welsh authorities also seized a Banksy work called White Tower, valued at £1,750 ($2,085). The seizures of the artworks were made in March 2021 as part of a criminal investigation into a 35-year-old man.
In a statement to ARTnews, a spokesperson for the Gwent police declined to comment on the case while it is still under judicial review.
“We’re checking with the Crown Prosecution Service about what we can and can’t say at this time as the case could still be sub judice. I shall let you know what the outcome is but I won’t have an answer for you today.”