Banksy artwork stolen from central Paris

The artwork on the back of a road signImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The artwork's disappearance was reported to police on Monday

A mural by famous artist Banksy has been stolen from outside the Pompidou Centre in central Paris.

The artwork, depicting a rat with a face mask holding an artist's utility knife, was taken from its location on the back of a road sign in the 4th arrondissement on Sunday.

Police have launched an investigation.

Past Banksy pieces have sold at auction for over £1m. This artwork, which appeared in June last year, was protected behind glass.

It was installed around the time of the 50th anniversary of the May 1968 uprisings, when French students and unionists protested across Paris and surrounding areas demanding the fall of the government under Charles de Gaulle.

Banksy, whose identity remains a secret, rarely confirms whether a piece of art is his, however he posted an image of this artwork to his Instagram account days after it appeared last year.

Police were alerted to the theft at around 04:15 (05:15 GMT) on Monday, according to French media.

Officers are examining CCTV images from the area.

The Pompidou Centre 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 were 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 a legal complaint."

It is not the first time a mural attributed to Banksy has been stolen in Paris. In January, a work depicting a young female figure was cut out and removed from one of the emergency doors at the Bataclan music venue.

It was a tribute to the 90 people who were killed when armed militants targeted the venue during a rock concert in 2015. It has never been located.

Media caption,
Workers move a Banksy artwork from the side of a garage in Port Talbot