French authorities have arrested six people over theft of an artwork by British street artist Banksy that was stolen from Bataclan concert hall in Paris.
The mural, which shows a veiled female figure staring mournfully downwards, was found at a farmhouse in central Italy earlier this month, nearly a one-and-a-half years after it was removed.
Two of those arrested are under formal investigation on suspicion of theft. The other four are suspected of concealing theft, the source said.
It is thought the thieves used portable grinders to remove the fire-exit door on which the mural was painted before carrying it off in a van, Italian media reported when the artwork was discovered.
The Bataclan, one of Paris’ best-known rock venues, was stormed by militants during a concert in November 2015, as part of coordinated attacks around the city that killed 130 people.
The suspects were arrested across France this week after the artwork, an image of a girl in mourning painted on one of the Paris venue’s emergency doors, was found in Italy earlier in the month, judicial and police sources said.
Two were charged with theft while the other four were charged with concealing theft, the sources added. All six were placed in pre-trial detention.
The door with the artwork was cut out and taken in January last year at the Bataclan, where gunmen massacred 90 people in 2015.
French and Italian police said on June 10 this year that they found the work in an abandoned farmhouse in Italy’s central east Abruzzo region.
One of the French policeman who intervened in the 2015 Bataclan attack was present when the door was found, and was overcome with emotion, according to the French crime unit.
Works by Banksy, known for their distinctive style, irreverent humour and thought-provoking themes, have been found on walls, buildings and bridges from the West Bank to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
At auction, they have sold for more than $1 million.