(Paris) Can graffiti be worth fortunes or do they have “no value”, as some “street art” purists profess? French justice examined these questions on Monday, through the case of a man tried for the theft in 2019 of a work by Banksy painted on the back of a road sign.

For the defendant, Mejdi R., 38, a musician artist who admits his participation in the facts, “graffiti in the street has no value”.  

And if he stole this drawing, made on the back of a large sign indicating the entrance to a parking lot, in the center of Paris, it was at the request of its author, the thirty-year-old affirmed in court.  

The famous British street artist would have wanted to prevent others from appropriating or profiting from his work and also “denounce the hypocrisy of the capitalist system which says which work has value and which does not”.

The defendant therefore believes that he did not “stole cultural property”, but only “participated in the damage to a metal plate”. But he cannot provide any proof of a request that Banksy made to him in this regard – which is normal according to him since the artist values ​​his anonymity.

The defendant, who says he has already met Banksy and is his “friend”, claims to have received nothing in return for his “help”.

For the representative of the public prosecutor’s office Pierre-Alain Abadia, the thesis of a theft sponsored by the artist is not based on any objective element and was even denied by Banksy, via a press officer.

In this new case, the prosecution requested 18 months in prison, 10 of which were suspended, and a fine of 50,000 euros. The Paris criminal court will deliver its decision on June 19.