Banksy artwork 'stolen' less than an hour after being unveiled in Peckham in south London

A new Banksy artwork has been removed less than an hour after it was unveiled for the first time on a south London street.

The mysterious artist showcased the piece - which shows what looks like three planes on a traffic stop sign - on Friday afternoon.

A selection of photos were uploaded to the artist’s Instagram page without a caption or explanation.

The work was installed at the intersection of Southampton Way and Commercial Way in Peckham, south London, close to a zebra crossing.

Banksy has unveiled a new piece of art work at the intersection of Southampton Way and Commercial Way in Peckham (PA)
Banksy has unveiled a new piece of art work at the intersection of Southampton Way and Commercial Way in Peckham (PA)

However, two men were then seen taking down the sign at the intersection at about 12.30pm. It is believed to have been stolen.

It is understood Banksy was not behind the removal.

Onlookers began shouting when a man tried to remove the installation, a witness told the PA news agency.

They said: “He arrived the first time, the bloke, and tried to climb up to the sign and then couldn’t quite knock it, the sign, of its hinges, just with his hand.

“So then he went away and then came back with a pair of bolt cutters and climbed up on the bike.

“He fell off the first time. Then his mate steadied the bike and then he climbed back up again and just bashed the sign off the hinges and then ran off.”

He added: “As soon as it (the art piece) went up online a few people cycled down to it to see it straight away and just sort of hung around.

“When he started trying to knock it off a few people were shouting for him to stop but he just carried on and that’s when he realised he couldn’t get it off with just his hands and had to get some bolt cutters.”

Another person who witnessed the removal said he “watched in awe” as a passerby “bashed it with his hands”.

Alex, 26, said: “I opened Instagram and I saw it was posted four minutes before and I was about to go on my lunch break. There were about two people there when I got there. We were all sort of admiring it and taking pictures.

“This guy comes up and grabs it, we watched in awe as he bashed it. He put the Lime bike under the sign, stood on the Lime bike and tried to hit the sign, he hit it with his hands and it wasn’t going anywhere.

“He fell off the Lime bike at one point. He disappeared and went away and about two minutes later he reappeared with bolt cutters and just sort of tried and tried and tried while everyone was watching.

“We said ‘what are you doing?’ but no one really knew what to do, we sort of just watched it happen. We were all a bit bemused; there was some honking of car horns.

“He ripped it off and ran across the road and ran away. He said nothing. He didn’t seem to care that much about the art itself. There was someone else there but I don’t know if they were together.

“I went there thinking that people want that, I wanted to see it before something happened to it. Before it was taken, someone else said ‘shall we take it?'”

Banksy has installed some other pieces this year, including Valentine’s Day Mascara, a mural weighing 3.8 tonnes, which appeared on the side of a house in Margate, Kent, on Valentine’s Day.

The mural depicted a 1950s’ housewife with a swollen eye and missing tooth, wearing an apron and yellow washing-up gloves, and throwing a man into a chest freezer.

In September it was placed in the foyer of The Art of Banksy exhibition in Regent Street, central London, where it can be viewed for free.

The exhibition features pieces including Girl With Balloon, Flower Thrower and Rude Copper and also focuses on Banksy’s Dismaland, The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem and recent works acknowledging the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The artwork shows three drones perched on a stop sign (PA)
The artwork shows three drones perched on a stop sign (PA)

An exhibition also opened at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) for a limited run and showcased 25 years of Banksy’s stencil graffiti.

Cut & Run included authentic artefacts, ephemera and the artist’s toilet, as well as a model that explained how the artist shredded Girl With Balloon during an auction at Sotheby’s in London in 2018.

In August, a message on, said that organisers now “want to take this show on the road but have no idea where to go to next”.

The artist often refers to contemporary issues and in 2020 included messages about the Coronavirus pandemic in his work.

Transport for London (TfL) removed spray paint in a London Underground carriage due to what they called their “strict anti-graffiti policy”.