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A Thief Walked Into a Gallery and Walked Out With a Banksy – Here's How He Did It

Police have released footage of a man slipping out of a Toronto gallery carrying a valuable print by the street artist

Banksy, Trolley Hunters. Courtesy: the artist and Toronto Police Service

Banksy, Trolley Hunters. Courtesy: Toronto Police Service

In the early morning hours of Sunday 10 June, a man slipped into a Toronto gallery, and stole a piece by the street artist Banksy hanging on the wall. Toronto police released surveillance footage last week showing the thief making off with a print of the artist’s Trolley Hunters.

The security cameras show the man entering the gallery at 213 Sterling Road, with his face veiled by a camouflage hat. He picked up the print, and then brazenly strolled back through the door he entered. Police are asking for help in tracking down the suspect ‘described as wearing glasses, black jacket, green camouflage baseball hat, blue jeans rolled at the cuff, grey running shoes, glasses.’

The print of Trolley Hunters features prehistoric humans dressed in loin cloths, hunting supermarket trolleys while armed with spears and axes. It is valued at USD$35,000. The exhibition from which the work was taken is titled ‘The Art of Banksy’, and is an unauthorized display of his work, promoted as ‘the largest Banksy exhibit ever assembled!’ The exhibition shows more than 80 privately-owned pieces curated by the artist’s former dealer, Steve Lazarides, who fell out with Banksy in 2008. Together the pieces are valued at over USD$35 million, the organizers say.

Given the unauthorized nature of the show, the artist’s well-known criticism of celebrity and commerce in the art world, and the mystery surround the heist, conspiracy theories have emerged on social media suggesting that the artist could be the culprit himself. However a producer for the exhibition denied that it was a publicity stunt.

Earlier this month, Banksy revealed on Instagram that when he submitted an artwork anonymously to London’s Royal Academy, it was initially rejected – only for it to be accepted when they realized it was a Banksy. He originally submitted to the RA’s Summer Show under the name of Bryan S Gaakman (an anagram of ‘Banksy anagram’). It was rejected. Grayson Perry, who has co-curated this year’s Summer Show, later asked him send an artwork in, so he submitted the same piece. ‘It’s now hanging in gallery 3’, Banksy said.

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