Theft of Banksy graffiti art thwarted by vigilant New Orleans neighbours

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 9:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 9:22pm


Neighbours in New Orleans foiled what police say was an attempt to steal a chunk of breeze block wall bearing a painting created by the world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy.

The building's owner called police saying someone was attempting to cut out the painting, which Banksy had created after Hurricane Katrina struck the city in the American South.

By the time of that call, a police spokesman said, two suspects were gone and the mural, known locally as Umbrella Girl or Rain Girl, was still there. The painting and the long holes that had been cut around it are now shielded by plywood.

The mural is among more than a dozen made in 2008 in New Orleans by the elusive British artist, who is perhaps the world's best-known street artist.

Banksy's works have sold at auction for as much as US$1.1 million. He came to New Orleans as Hurricane Gustav was heading towards Louisiana. The images he left were generally related to the 2005 hurricane, Katrina.

Many have since been painted over or destroyed. This one shows a mournful girl holding an umbrella from which rain pours onto her as she extends a cupped hand into the air around her.

Word of activity at the site appeared on Friday afternoon on Facebook, with pictures showing a wide gap above the painting.

The removal work was going on behind a plywood screen and one of the suspects was snapped by a local photographer.