A preview of the Art of Banksy exhibit at 213 Sterling Road in Toronto is pictured on Monday, June 11, 2018. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

Banksy print stolen in Toronto, police investigating theft

Lazarides has billed ‘The Art of Banksy’ as largest collection of U.K. artist’s work ever displayed

An original print by renowned street artist Banksy was stolen from an unauthorized exhibition of his works in Toronto, police said Thursday as they investigated the theft.

The piece valued at $45,000 is believed to have been stolen over the weekend, according to police, who explained that officers were called to the “Art of Banksy” exhibition after gallery staff saw security video showing someone taking the print.

The stolen piece is ”Trolley Hunters,” which depicts a group of Indigenous people stalking shopping carts in tall grass, said Corey Ross, president of Starvox Entertainment, a company that helped put on the show.

“It’s a beautiful piece and we hope to get it back,” said Ross, adding that he would not comment further during the police investigation.

The print was taken shortly after 5 a.m. on Sunday, police said Thursday afternoon as they released security video of the theft. The clip shows a man entering the display area, picking up the print and leaving the way he came, which police described as an “interior door.”

The exhibition, organized by Banksy’s former manager Steve Lazarides, opened on Wednesday. Banksy, a secretive artist known for cheeky stencils and illicit, politically charged graffiti, has not endorsed it.

Lazarides has billed ”The Art of Banksy” as the largest collection of the U.K. artist’s work ever put on display, containing about $35 million worth of art.

The show is made up of about 80 original pieces, several of which are owned by private collectors.

It includes some of Banksy’s most famous works, including ”Balloon Girl,” in which a young girl lets go of a heart-shaped balloon and ”Flag Wall,” a riff on the image of U.S. soldiers raising a flag at Iwo Jima.

Lazarides said prior to the show’s launch that he and Banksy have not spoken in about a decade.

“To be honest this isn’t a Banksy exhibition, it is an exhibition of Banksy’s art and I think there’s a big difference between the two,” he said.

The artist’s work has a broad appeal, Lazarides said.

“It was (always) a very wide spread of people,” he said. ”It wasn’t just graphic designers in backpacks that were liking his work in the beginning.”

“The Art of Banksy” runs until July 11.

Peter Goffin , The Canadian Press

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