Banksy funds refugee rescue boat in Mediterranean

Bright pink motor yacht, featuring anonymous artist's work on one side, has rescued 89 people in secret mission

Bristol graffiti artist Banksy has funded a boat, named Louise Michel, to help rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from North Africa.
Bristol graffiti artist Banksy has funded a boat, named Louise Michel, to help rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from North Africa.

Banksy has reportedly funded a bright pink boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from North Africa.

The Louise Michel – a 100ft motor yacht named after a 19th-century French anarchist – features Banksy artwork of a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped buoy.

It set sail in secrecy from Spain on 18 August and is in the central Mediterranean where it helped rescue 89 refugees, including women and children, “in distress” on a rubber boat on Thursday.

The boat’s crew, said to be made up of European activists, had already helped in two previous rescue operations, saving a total of 105 people who are now safe on board Sea-Watch 4, another NGO vessel.

The anonymous Bristol graffiti artist is said to have funded the vessel after reaching out to Pia Klemp, the former captain of several non-governmental organisation (NGO) rescue boats, back in September 2019, according to The Guardian.

He is said to have written: “Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass.

“I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.”

Ms Klemp told The Guardian Banksy’s involvement only went as far as providing financial support.

“Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists,” she told the newspaper.

Banksy recently donated a trio of paintings referencing the European refugee crisis to a charity auction to help raise money for a hospital in Bethlehem.

The works, titled “Mediterranean Sea View 2017”, were estimated to be worth between £800,000 and £1.2m and ended up fetching £2.2m.

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