The painted door was found in Italy, in a farmhouse in Sant’Omero, on June 10, 2020, after a long hunt.
On a door of the Bataclan, the work of Banksy paid tribute since 2018 to the victims of the attacks of November 13. Stolen in 2019, found in Italy the following year, it will be at the heart of the trial of eight men from Wednesday in Paris. For three days, the court must examine the role that seven French people and an Italian are suspected of having played in the theft and concealment of this metal door decorated with a stencil representing a sad young girl, claimed by the street-artist worldwide known.
On January 26, 2019, shortly after 4 a.m., a white van with concealed plates stopped in the Saint-Pierre Amelot passage (11th arrondissement of Paris), through which many Bataclan spectators had fled the attack in which 90 of them were killed on November 13, 2015. Three masked men get out of the vehicle, cut the hinges with grinders powered by a generator. In less than 10 minutes, they embark the work, protected by a plexiglass window.
Read alsoInvestigators tracked Banksy thieves from Bataclan to Italy, despite covid
Those in charge of the theater are indignant: this “symbol of contemplation and belonging to all, local residents, Parisians, citizens of the world, has been taken away from us“. This flightmeticulously prepared“, in the words of the investigating judge in charge of the case, will finally be elucidated via information from Isère, transmitted to the Parisian police in November 2019.
Three men there are suspected of having robbed a DIY store, twelve days before the theft. Among the stolen objects, grinders and generators. Their phones also reveal that they were together in Paris on the night of the incident. The lines of the thirty-somethings and their relatives are tapped: in conversations, the theft is openly mentioned.
Little by little, the investigators retrace the route of the door: Isère, Var then Tortoreto, in Italian Abruzzo. It was on a farm in Sant’Omero, about fifteen kilometers away, that she was finally discovered on June 10, 2020. Arrested, Kevin G., Franck GA and Danis G. confessed to the theft, but the last two claim only an executive role. The one who received the door in the Var, Mehdi Meftah, is suspected of having “order” the flight. This 41-year-old man, who says he won 7.5 million euros in the lottery, created the luxury T-shirt brand “BL1.Dwhose signature is an 18 carat gold ingot sewn on the neckline.
“What the fuck do you want me to do?»
During his hearings, he denied having ordered the theft and claims to have been put “before the fait accompli“, before deciding”to get rid of the problemto Italy. “Look what I brought you“, would have said to him, according to his account, Kevin G. “You crazy, what do you want me to give a damn about your thing?“, he would have replied. Kevin G. confirmed this version. He claims to have thought that his friend, a wealthy street-art lover, could resell it. Other protagonists, however, spoke of a “ordered“.
The last four defendants, aged 31 to 58, are suspected of having transported the work. “It’s a file that we wanted to do something much bigger than it really is.“, argues Me Romain Ruiz, lawyer for Franck GA “Symbolism is what it is and no one minimizes it“, declared Me Margaux Durand-Poincloux, lawyer of Danis G. “But in the case of my client, it remains an aggravated robbery in which he is not the decision-maker of the target, which makes the length of his pre-trial detention disproportionate“. Danis G. was arrested in March 2021, almost a year after his co-defendants who, after several months in pre-trial detention, will appear free under judicial supervision.
The real identity of British artist Banksy, who has claimed works with a political message across the world, remains a mystery. His pieces sell at auction for millions of euros. The price of the door has been estimated between 500,000 and one million euros – a debated amount. Its return to the owners of the Bataclan building is challenged in cassation by the manager of the performance hall, taken over by the City of Paris.
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