Banksy mural theft foiled in New Orleans after suspects posing as removal workers tried to steal ‘Umbrella Girl’

The suspects reportedly said the painting was being moved to London

A man in New Orleans called the police on Friday after suspects allegedly posing as art removal experts attempted to steal a mural by the graffiti artist Bansky.

By the time the call was made the two suspects had gone, leaving the mural intact.

The artwork, locally known as Umbrella Girl or Rain Girl, depicts a mournful girl holding an umbrella from which rain pours on to her as she extends a cupped hand into the open air around her.

Photographer Cheryl Gerber noticed plywood had been erected around the painting on her way home from work on Friday.

She asked a man sitting at the back of a nearby rental truck what was going on, to which he replied: “Oh, the picture is going to London for a big show”.

She returned home and posted a photo showing a wide gap above the painting which was hidden behind a plywood screen, on Facebook.

Her message read: “Bye Bye Banksy! My neighbourhood's most famous little girl is moving to London”.

People walk past a plywood barrier protecting a mural by the artist Banksy, in New Orleans. People walk past a plywood barrier protecting a mural by the artist Banksy, in New Orleans.
Clay Lapeyrouse, the operations manager at Louisiana Fresh Produce, was alarmed when he saw the post.

When he asked the suspects to show him their permits for working on the building, they could not provide any but told him the building's owners wanted to send the painting to a museum.

“They couldn't tell me who the owner was or the name of the museum,“ Mr Lapeyrouse said, adding: “I called the police and called every authority I could think of in the city.”

Mr Lapeyrouse said he stayed to guard the mural for as long as he could, but finally left to get his dogs from day care.

When he returned the men had gone, but he stayed in case they came back. More neighbours arrived and Mr Lapeyrouse said he also tore down the plywood screen.

John Guarnieri, office manager at an architectural firm and a board member of the Bywater Neighbourhood Association, said eventually a former tenant of the building arrived and was able to give the name of the owner's lawyer.

Police spokesman Officer Garry Flot said an investigation into the incident has begun but the identities of the suspects remain unknown.

A guard is now protecting the painting and a new plywood shield has been put up, neighbours said.

New Orleans resident Charlie Varley, who grew up south of London, also saw the man chopping at the wall.

Mr Varley said the man told him he was a Los Angeles ”art handler“ working for the building owners, who were sending it to the Tate Modern - one of four Tate museums holding Britain's national art collection.

Banksy, whose works have sold at auction for as much as £660,000, created the mural after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

It is among a dozen made in 2008 in the US state of New Orleans by the mysterious artists, many of which have been painted over or destroyed.

Tate spokeswoman Jeanette Ward said there ”are currently no plans announced to include the work of Banksy in an exhibition“.

Additional reporting by AP

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas