France arrests six over stolen Banksy artwork

Italian Carabinieri pose near a piece of art attributed to Banksy, that was stolen at the Bataclan in Paris in 2019, and found in Italy, during a press conference in L’Aquila. (AFP/Filippo Monteforte)
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Updated 27 June 2020

France arrests six over stolen Banksy artwork

  • The mural, which shows a veiled female figure staring mournfully downwards, was found at a farmhouse in central Italy earlier this month
  • The Bataclan, one of Paris’ best-known rock venues, was stormed by militants during a concert in November 2015

PARIS: Six people have been arrested in France over the theft of an artwork by the British street artist Banksy that was stolen from the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, a judicial source said on Saturday.
The mural, which shows a veiled female figure staring mournfully downwards, was found at a farmhouse in central Italy earlier this month, nearly a one-and-a-half years after it was removed.
Two of those arrested are under formal investigation on suspicion of theft. The other four are suspected of concealing theft, the source said.
It is thought the thieves used portable grinders to remove the fire-exit door on which the mural was painted before carrying it off in a van, Italian media reported when the artwork was discovered.
The Bataclan, one of Paris’ best-known rock venues, was stormed by militants during a concert in November 2015, as part of coordinated attacks around the city that killed 130 people.


In Lebanon, single-concert festival serenades empty ruins

Updated 05 July 2020

In Lebanon, single-concert festival serenades empty ruins

  • The Baalbek International Festival was streamed live on television and social media
  • The night kicked off with the Lebanese philharmonic orchestra and choir performing the national anthem

BEIRUT: A philharmonic orchestra performed to spectator-free Roman ruins in east Lebanon Sunday, after a top summer festival downsized to a single concert in a year of economic meltdown and pandemic.
The Baalbek International Festival was instead streamed live on television and social media, in what its director called a message of “hope and resilience” amid ever-worsening daily woes.
The night kicked off with the Lebanese philharmonic orchestra and choir performing the national anthem, followed by Carmina Burana’s “O Fortuna,” a 13th century poem set to music.

The program, which ran for just over an hour, included a mix of classical music and rock and folk tunes by composers ranging from Beethoven to Lebanon’s Rahbani brothers.
Held in the open air and conducted by Harout Fazlian, the 150 musicians and chorists were scattered inside the illuminated Temple of Bacchus, as drones filmed them among the enormous ruins and Greco-Roman temples of Baalbek.
Festival director Nayla de Freige told AFP most artists performed for free at the designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
The concert aimed to represent “a way of saying that Lebanon does not want to die. We have an extremely productive and creative art and culture sector,” she said.
“We want to send a message of civilization, hope and resilience.”
Baalbek itself became a militia stronghold during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, but conservation and tourism have revived the ruins over the past three decades.
Lebanon is known for its summer music festivals, which have in past years drawn large crowds every night and attracted performers like Shakira, Sting and Andrea Bocelli.
Other festivals have not yet announced their plans for this year.
Lebanon has recorded just 1,873 cases of COVID-19, including 36 deaths.
But measures to stem the spread of the virus have exacerbated the country’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Since economic woes in the autumn sparked mass protests against a political class deemed irretrievably corrupt, tens of thousands have lost their jobs or part of their income, and prices have skyrocketed.
Banks have prevented depositors from withdrawing their dollar savings, while the local currency has lost more than 80 percent of its value to the greenback on the black market.