Banksy art worth over £220,000 seized in proceeds of crime investigation
Work by street artist Banksy worth more than £220,000 has been seized by police as suspected proceeds of crime, it has emerged.
The elusive artist’s sculpture Grappling Hook is one of three pieces that are in the custody of Gwent police in Wales as part of a criminal investigation.
The work — valued at up to £210,000 — was created by Banksy for The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem in 2017, a political exhibition aimed at raising attention of struggles in the Middle Eastern region. Described as a “military-grade grappling hook and combination spiritual ornament”, it features a depiction of Jesus being crucified and sold at auction in 2019 for £93,750.
Court documents reveal the police force in Wales has also seized a Banksy work called White Tower, valued at £1,750, as well as a satirical portrait of the late Queen called Monkey Queen, which is worth £13,750.
The three works were first seized by police in March 2021, as part of an investigation into a 35-year-old man from Ebbw Vale.
When contacted by the Standard, Gwent police was unable to give out any details of the seizure of the artwork.
It did not respond to questions about where the works were being held, and what may happen to them in the future. It also said it could not comment on whether criminal charges were pending. An order for the continued detention of Banksy’s work by police was approved by Newport magistrates court in September last year. A review is due to take place at the court later this month.
The property was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, after being classed as “listed assets” which can include precious stones and metals, watches, and works of art.
Seized items can be permanently confiscated and sold off in the event of criminal convictions, if they are deemed to be the proceeds of crime.