Three pieces by the street artist Banksy have been seized by police as part of a criminal investigation in southeast Wales. Gwent police seized a sculpture, a satirical screen printed portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth, and one other work by the artist.
The sculpture, titled Grappling Hook, was created by Banksy in 2017 for a political exhibition at The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. The artwork depicts an acrylic Jesus figure on a wooden cross that is also a “military-grade grappling hook”. In September 2019, Sotheby’s auctioned a signed edition of the sculpture and an original cardboard box for £93,750 ($130,264). Monkey Queen is a screenprinted color poster series Banksy made in 2003. Sotheby’s has sold at least seven editions of the poster between £13,750 and £47,880 ($19,215 to $64,674 today) at several different auctions between September 2019 and April 2022.
The Evening Standard, which first reported the news, reported that court documents stated that Welsh authorities also seized a Banksy work called White Tower, valued at £1,750 ($2,085). The seizures of the artworks were made in March 2021 as part of a criminal investigation into a 35-year-old man.
“We’re checking with the Crown Prosecution Service about what we can and can’t say at this time as the case could still be sub judice. I shall let you know what the outcome is but I won’t have an answer for you today.”
In a statement to ARTnews, a spokesperson for the Gwent police declined to comment on the case while it is still under judicial review.