Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Banksy artwork recovered by police

Original Banksy piece Wrong War and signed print No Ball Games were recovered by police in Greenwich, east London (Met Police/PA)

An original Banksy artwork has been recovered by police after an art dealer alerted officers to an alleged fraud, Scotland Yard said.

The original of Wrong War by Bristol's renowned graffiti artist and a signed print of No Ball Games were bought for £12,990 last month.

But two weeks after delivering the artworks to a customer in Plumstead, south London, the art dealer received bank letters stating that the cards used to buy the images did not have the authorisation of the cardholders. Both payments were cancelled and refunded to the cardholder, leaving the dealer in Essex without the artworks or payments.

Officers from Greenwich CID launched an investigation when, in the meantime, the suspect contacted the art dealer again, this time to make a purchase of two Banksy prints worth £10,000.

Police were informed of this order and arrested a 25-year-old man at an address in Plumstead on February 8. He has since been bailed pending further inquiries.

Officers searched an address in Charlton, believed to be linked to the suspect, where they recovered Wrong War.

No Ball Games was recovered after a member of the public bought it from the suspect and became suspicious of the transaction, police said. He contacted the Essex art gallery directly and subsequently returned the artwork.

Det Sgt Geoff Grogan, from Greenwich CID, said: "We acted very quickly after the victim contacted us and this gave us the opportunity not only to make an arrest, but also to recover the artworks.

"We believe that there may be more than one person involved. We are also in the process of contacting the card holders who were unaware that their cards were being used. Our investigation is still open and will continue."

One of the cards used in the transaction is registered to a card holder in Arizona, the Met said. Police are in the process of identifying the second cardholder.

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