City police have asked for the public’s help with any information related to the apparent theft on Sunday, 10 June of Trolley Hunters, a 2007 print by the street artist. CCTV footage released by the authorities shows a man entering the gallery space, looking around and then briskly leaving with the artwork. The incident occurred just after 5am local time.
Police say the artwork’s disappearance was discovered after they responded to a call about a suspected break-in at the site of the exhibition, an industrial building in Toronto’s west end neighbourhood.
The unauthorised exhibit presents around 80 privately owned pieces by the Bristol street artist, which are together worth C$35 million (£20 million). The Art of Banksy was curated by Banksy’s former agent, Steve Lazarides, who worked with the secretive artist for 10 years. Banksy is not involved in the show, making it ‘unauthorised’.
Trolley Hunters is valued at C$45,000 (£26,000). It depicts three Neanderthal hunters seemingly ready to attack a group of empty shopping carts, one carrying a spear and one a hammer. According to the MyArtBroker website, the piece is thought to mock humanity’s inability to “provide for ourselves”.
Banksy infuses most of his work with socio-political commentary. His March 2018 mural on New York’s iconic Bowery Wall, for example, features a white background marked with black tally marks, which hauntingly double as prison bars. These are thought to tick each day of Turkish-Kurdish artist and journalist Zehra Doğan’s two years, nine months and 22 days prison sentence for a controversial artwork she painted.
Starvox Exhibits, the arts promotion company behind the Toronto exhibition, confirmed to the BBC that the print went missing during the show’s set-up. “Due to the investigation, we will not be commenting further at this time,” said president Corey Ross in a statement.