Banksy artwork stolen, on a busy London street corner. +VIDEO

The Metropolitan Police has initiated an investigation following the removal of a south London street sign adorned with artwork attributed to the enigmatic artist Banksy. The artwork, depicting three military drones on a red STOP sign, was revealed at the intersection of Commercial Way, Peckham. However, its unveiling was short-lived as it was swiftly removed by an individual wielding bolt cutters, while bystanders captured the scene through photographs and video. Authorities are treating the incident as theft, though no arrests have been made as of yet. According to a gallery owner, the artwork could potentially fetch a value of up to £500,000.

One eyewitness recounted his astonishment as he observed the sign being removed. Alex, 26, described the scene, noting the collective sense of helplessness among onlookers. “We were all just standing there in disbelief, not knowing what to do but watching it unfold,” he remarked.

Detailing the daring removal, another individual steadied a Lime hire bike as his companion perched on its saddle, reaching up to cut the artwork loose. With a swift wrench, the piece was removed from its post, and the perpetrator swiftly vanished from sight down the street.

Reflecting on the absence of the artwork, Matthew Uden, managing director of a nearby funeral director, remarked is regret over its absence.

Although the incident has been reported to the Met Police, art gallery owner John Brandler speculated whether it might have been a calculated “publicity stunt.” “If it were to go up for auction, its value could range from £250,000 to £500,000, possibly even higher due to the heightened media attention,” he suggested.

Banksy’s latest artwork, widely interpreted by his Instagram followers as a plea for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, adds another layer to his enigmatic portfolio. Prof. Paul Gough of Arts University Bournemouth remarked on Banksy’s deliberate ambiguity, suggesting that the artist rarely places his work arbitrarily. The placement of similar drone-themed art at Banksy’s Walled Off hotel in Bethlehem in 2017 underscores his penchant for addressing contentious political issues.

Ulrich Blanche, a street art expert, noted the typically political nature of Banksy’s thought-provoking pieces. He suggested that the artwork’s location near a funeral director and the imagery of drones departing may symbolize the global arms trade. However, despite its considerable value, Blanche acknowledged the potential difficulty in finding a buyer due to the questionable circumstances of its acquisition.

Banksy’s recent installations, including the weighty mural “Valentine’s Day Mascara” in Margate and the provocative stab vest exhibited in Croydon, continue to captivate audiences worldwide, demonstrating the enduring impact of his artistic interventions.

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