LA Man Suspected of Attempted Banksy Art Theft

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
|  Sunday, Mar 9, 2014  |  Updated 3:50 PM EDT
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In this Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 photo provided by Mohan Choppala, an unidentified man cuts into a wall with a mural created by the artist Banksy, in New Orleans. Neighbors foiled what police say was an apparent attempt to steal a chunk of cinderblock wall bearing a painting created after Hurricane Katrina by the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy.

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New Orleans police were looking for a Los Angeles man accused of trying to steal a big chunk of cinderblock wall bearing a painting by the world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy.

Police have a warrant to arrest Christopher Sensabaugh, 30, on charges of attempted theft and criminal damage to property, according to an emailed news release.

An Internet database does not have a current phone number for Sensabaugh.

The mural, which locals call the Rain Girl or the Umbrella Girl, was painted on a vacant building — Banksy's usual canvas. The art piece could be worth $200,000 to $1.1 million, the news release said.

It shows a mournful girl holding an umbrella from which rain pours onto her as she extends a cupped hand into the clear air beyond the umbrella.

The wanted man was photographed by local residents, including two professional photographers, working behind a wooden screen and sitting on a rental truck. He told them he was removing the piece for an art show in London.

The man eventually left without the section of wall. A guard was posted to protect it, and it has since been plastered back into the wall, NOLA.com The Times-Picayune  reported.

Photographer Charlie Varley said the man gave his name only as Chris, and said he was a "private art handler from Los Angeles" hired by the building's owner to send the piece of wall to the Tate — England's national gallery — for a Banksy retrospective.

A spokeswoman for the Tate told The Associated Press there are no plans for such an exhibition.

Robert Abdalian, an attorney for Mantua LLC, the building's owner, told The New Orleans Advocate  that neither he nor the building's owners know Sensabaugh.
 

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