Europe

Banksy art works seized in Belgium over lack of insurance

File picture of Banksy artwork entitled Girl with Balloon Image copyright EPA
Image caption The exhibition included a version of Banksy's famous Girl With Balloon

Art works by street artist Banksy have been seized by Belgian authorities after an exhibitor showing them realised they might not be insured.

Some 58 pieces worth millions of euros had gone on display in an empty supermarket space in Brussels.

The exhibitor told the authorities the works might not be covered in case of damage or theft, their lawyer said.

The move comes amid a rights dispute between Banksy's former agent and a German firm over the works.

The display, Banksy Unauthorised, is said to have been put together without the artist's involvement and was being shown by Belgian exhibitor Strokar.

The works, worth €15m (£12m), were seized late on Thursday and include paintings, photos and silkscreens in a collection put together by Banksy's former agent, Steve Lazarides.

Among the works being shown was a version of the famous image Girl With Balloon.

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A German-based firm, On Entertainment, acting as an intermediary, invited Strokar to exhibit the works in the Belgian capital, Strokar's lawyer Stanislas Eskenazi told the AFP news agency.

The firm said it had the rights and permits to show the works, but it was not clear under what conditions those rights were granted or whether the works were insured, he added.

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Media captionThe anonymous artist uploaded a video of the destruction onto Instagram but soon deleted the post

After lawyers for Mr Lazarides alleged the works were being displayed illegally, and amid the doubts whether they were insured, Mr Eskenazi said his clients opted to leave it to the courts to rule on the dispute between Mr Lazarides and On Entertainment.

"My client is a small non-profit which only provided an exhibition space. It wanted to protect itself against an enormous risk," Mr Eskenazi said.

A Belgian court must decide on the matter in the next few months. The works are currently being held by bailiffs.

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