Eight men accused of stealing a mural painted by the secretive artist Banksy on an emergency exit door at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris and transporting it to Italy went on trial today in France. The theft occurred in January 2019 and the mural was found by authorities over a year later. While the three men accused of physically removing the door confessed and said it took less than 10 minutes to cut off its hinges, there was some confusion as to who actually targeted the mural.
"It's simple. Since the beginning of this case [my client] has said he was there because he knew how to cut doors. It's as stupid as that. He was asked to do that, he did it, he put the door in the van and went home," the lawyer for Franck Grillet-Aubert, one of the three men accused of stealing the door, told reporters outside the courthouse according to Reuters.
The three men accused of stealing the door admitted to the theft when they were arrested but had different stories about who was ultimately behind the crime. At this point the story becomes convoluted.
Two of the three men who confessed to the theft said they were working under the orders of 41-year-old luxury t-shirt brand owner Mehdi Meftah, who was not there during the heist, according to France24. Mefta says he was given the mural by one Kevin G., who is also on trial for the theft. This version of events was confirmed by Kevin G., one of the three believed to have removed the door, but contested by the other men who were present at the time, the France24 report said. Four more defendants are accused of transporting the mural to a farm in Sant'Omero, Italy where it was found June 2020.
The mural, worth an estimated $1.1m, was painted by Banksy in 2018. It shows the image of a weeping, veiled figure and is thought the be a tribute to victims of terrorist attacks at the Bataclan and across Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people.