Two men who posed as Paris city workers and stole up to 20 pixelated mosaic tile murals by the French urban artist Invader have been arrested, after a widespread social network campaign.
The two suspects, aged 29 and 33, were taken into custody Tuesday and charged with receiving stolen goods as well as aggravated theft, a judicial source has revealed.
Invader, who guards his identity much 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 “had 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.
Invader says he defines himself as a UFA, an Unidentified Free Artist. He chooses Invader as his pseudonym and always appears behind a mask. As such, He can visit his own exhibitions without any visitors knowing who he really is even if he stands a few steps away from them. Since 1998, he has developed a large scale project, code name: Space Invaders.
Invader says, “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.”
Authorities have not recovered any of the stolen works, which were pried off city walls during the summer.
See more work by Invader Here