Drunken Criminals Bungle Theft of Fake Banksy

Did the inebriated thieves even know the work was a fake?

The original Banksy Art Buff (2014) in Folkestone, England Photo: Street Art News

Arrests have been made following the attempted theft of a Banksy copy in Folkestone. The work, by local graffiti artist Robsci—sprayed onto a section of boarding used to hide an abandoned building—was found discarded having been wrenched from its situation.

Police spotted two men trying to carry away the section of chipboard in the early hours of Sunday August 14 and arrested them. One was additionally charged with drunk driving, and the other was later released without charge.

It is unclear as to whether the would-be thieves realized that the work was a Robsci rather than a Banksy original. The original artwork was in fact stolen last year, after more skilled thieves chiseled it out of the wall of an amusement arcade, where the mysterious street artist had painted it for the Folkestone Triennial in 2014.

The work was then sent overseas to a gallery in New York before a judge ordered its return to the UK after a legal challenge was mounted by Folkestone organization The Creative Foundation, which puts on the Folkestone Triennial.

“Our Banksy is in storage safe,” Ioannis Ioannou of the Creative Foundation told the Guardian. “It looks like someone has just copied it. Robsci is a local guy who goes around doing graffiti similar to Banksy.”

The original Banksy work, which shows an elderly woman wearing headphones, peering at a plinth is titled Art Buff,  and is now safely in storage somewhere ahead of going back on display in Folkestone next year.

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