Art thieves disguised as Paris street workers have stolen a number of pixelated tile pieces by the French street artist Invader. The photo, illustrated was taken on Friday as members of the public challenged the workers.
“more than a dozen pieces” from the artist had been ripped from walls all around the city, spokeswoman said.
Invader, who guards his identity like Britain’s Banksy is known, to the authorities but has stayed out of the public limelight. He creates pixellated works using ceramic and glass tiles that pay homage to early video games notably the 1978 “Space Invaders”. Some of his “invasions” have resulted in him being questioned by police, but copies of his works have often sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In 2015, his tile panel of 1970s cartoon character Hong Kong Phooey sold at an Urban Art auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for HK$2 million ($256,000). Paris officials said it “has decided to file a complaint about abuse of functions” because the two suspected thieves “were disguised as Paris city workers” in order to steal the public art works.
Authorities were alerted to the thefts on social media, with Parisians snapping pictures of the pretend workers on Twitter and asking why the city was removing the mosaics. We “quickly realised that those were not our agents, nor our vehicles or our jackets,” the city said.
Invader said on his website that pieces “removed, damaged or destroyed by individuals who seek to resell them.” will render them unattributable and of no monetary value.
The artist added: “Given the type of tiles I use, to steal the work is impossible. These individuals by removing the mosaics destroy the piece and then have to buy ceramics to repair or recreate the work.”
Who are you Invader? Where do you come from?
I define myself as an UFA, an Unidentified Free Artist. I chose Invader as my pseudonym and I always appear behind a mask. As such, I can visit my own exhibitions without any visitors knowing who I really am even if I stand a few steps away from them. Since 1998, I have developed a large scale project, code name: Space Invaders.
What is the Space Invaders project about?
It is first of all about liberating Art from its usual alienators that museums or institutions can be. But it is also about freeing the Space Invaders from their video games TV screens and to bring them in our physical world. Everything started the day I decided to give a material appearance to pixelization through ceramic tiles. I first wanted to create a series of “canvases” but I soon realised that tiles were the perfect material to display these pieces directly on the walls. I then had the idea of deploying my creatures on the walls of Paris and soon after in cities around the globe. Each of these unique pieces become the fragment of a monumental installation.
Paris police said an investigation has been opened and pending arrest any information contact the Paris Police.
Photo: Pierre Ropert/Twitter