Italy Has Returned Banksy's Stolen Art Tribute for Victims of 2015 Paris Attacks to France

Buzz Staff

Rome: Italy on Tuesday returned to France a stolen artwork by British artist Banksy that was painted as a tribute to the victims of the 2015 Paris attacks at the Bataclan music hall. The chief prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Michele Renzo, told the French ambassador that it was significant that the handover was occurring on Bastille Day, given the need to continue fighting for all freedoms.

“This door brings our minds back to the memory of the tragic and distressing event, and tells us that for liberty, for our individual liberties, we will always have to fight,” Renzo said at a ceremony in the French Embassy, where the artwork was being displayed for the holiday. French officials last year had announced the theft of the piece, a black image appearing to depict a person mourning that was painted on one of the Bataclan's emergency exit doors.

Ninety people were killed at the Bataclan on Nov. 13, 2015, when Islamic extremists invaded the music hall, one of several targets that night in which a total of 130 people died. Italian authorities had announced last month that they had discovered the painted door in an attic in a country home in Abruzzo.

French Ambassador Christian Masset said the door was a 'witness' to the attack but also an escape route. "Through this door which was an emergency exit, many people managed to escape," he said. "Thanks to this door more lives were saved." Standing next to the piece after it was unveiled, Renzo said Italy was proud to return the painting to its rightful owners.

"Recovering this symbol, handing it back to the public's emotion was for us a commitment and today is a great honor," said Renzo, chief prosecutor in L'Aquila.

Meanwhile, the British artist, known for his detailed graffiti and hidden identity, took to the London Underground to make some street art involving face masks and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a video posted to his Instagram on Tuesday, the artist appears to disguise himself as an employee tasked with deep cleaning the trains of London's metro system, known as the Tube. However, he doesn't really clean the Tube. Instead, he tagged images of rats all over the walls. There's a rat sneezing across a window and other rats who are seen to be wearing face masks as parachutes and carry hand sanitizers.

"If you don’t mask – you don’t get," the artist captioned the video of him.

Banksy also tagged the phrase "I get lockdown" on a metro stop along with "But I get up again" on the doors of a train.

With inputs from AP

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