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Banksy artwork of rat with a knife stolen in Paris

Original article by Bethany Minelle, arts and entertainment reporter

The stencilled image has been cut from the back of a large traffic sign near a modern art gallery in the French capital.

A Banksy artwork of a masked rat holding a Stanley knife has been stolen in Paris.

The stencilled image has been cut from the back of a large traffic sign near the Pompidou Centre, a modern art gallery in the centre of the city.

The gallery, which houses Europe’s largest collection of contemporary artwork, posted an image on its official Twitter page showing a rectangular hole in the metal sign.

“We are sad to inform you that Banksy’s work of art facing our building on rue Beaubourg was stolen during the night,” the gallery said in a post.

“Although this piece was not part of our collection, we were proud that the artist had chosen the side of our building to create it, as an homage to the events of May ’68.”

The message refers to two months of anti-capitalist riots which took place in the city during the summer of 1968.

While the artwork was not signed, Banksy appeared to claim ownership in June, when he posted snaps of the masked rat on his Instagram feed.

It had subsequently been protected against vandalism by authorities, with a tinted acrylic sheet.

The picture is one of a selection of rat-themed works attributed to the Bristol-based artist which appeared across the French capital last summer.

They were widely seen to be a comment on the French government’s hard line on migrants.

Banksy’s choice of the rat for his murals was a nod to Parisian artist Blek le Rat, often described as the “father of stencil graffiti”, who began spraying his work in Paris more than 30 years ago.

The masked rat is the second of the illusive artist’s works to be stolen in the city this year, after a mural painted on an emergency door at the Bataclan concert venue was snatched by thieves in January.

The image, of a veiled girl huddling in the doorway, was seen as a memorial to the 90 people who lost their lives in the theatre during the 2015 Paris terror attack.

An anti-capitalist mural in the Left Bank, featuring a businessman in a suit offering a dog a bone after sawing it’s leg off, is also understood to have disappeared.

The Pompidou Centre says the latest theft has been reported to police

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