Three Banksy works seized by police in Wales

Police in Wales have seized three works by Banksy, valued at over £220,000, as part of a criminal investigation, with the artwork believed to be proceeds of crime.

banksy wales monkey queen

Banksy’s sculpture Grappling Hook is one of the pieces now in the custody of Gwent police, and makes up the majority of the three items’ worth.

Created by Banksy in 2017 for a political exhibition at The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem – which he helped design – the work is described as a “military-grade grappling hook and combination spiritual ornament”. The ornament sees Jesus being crucified atop the grappling hook. It sold at Sotheby’s in 2019 for £93,750.

The other artworks are White Tower and Monkey Queen – the latter a satirical portrait of the late Elizabeth II, according to court documents. 

banksy wales monkey queen

A woman stands in front of Monkey Queen during a press preview of the first unauthorized retrospective of works by UK artist Banksy on June 6, 2014 in London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Evening Standard, who first reported the news, understand the seizure took place in March 2021 as part of an investigation into a 35-year-old man from the southern Welsh town of Ebbw Vale. It was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, after being classed as “listed assets”. In the event of a criminal conviction, and if the seized items are deemed to be the proceeds of crime, they can be confiscated permanently and sold off.

Banksy has been in the news a lot lately, largely due to his artistic statements on Ukraine. Late last year, he unveiled a series of murals across the war-torn country, and then just last month his work was featured on a commemorative Ukranian stamp to mark the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

Closer to home, on Valentine’s day, Banksy created a mural in Margate titled Valentine’s Day Mascara which highlighted violence against women. The same day, it was dismantled by Thanet council, only to be partly put back together the following afternoon having been made “safe” by the authorities.

Header Image Credit: Sotheby’s

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