LONDON: Thousands of prints by popular London street artist STIK that he wanted to give to his local community as a gesture of solidarity during the COVID crisis have been stolen, the Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday.
STIK, known internationally for his distinctive stick figures, had arranged for 100,000 prints of a work entitled "Holding Hands" to be distributed to residents of Hackney, the east London neighbourhood where he lives and works.
"After everything residents have gone through recently with COVID-19 and lockdown, STIK’s intention was for every household in Hackney to have a single copy of the poster as a gift to either keep or sell," the police said in a statement.
Most of the prints were distributed to residents, as planned, along with a free newspaper provided monthly by the local authority, but a large number of people did not receive their copy, and soon batches of the prints were on sale online.
Around 1,000 of the stolen prints, bought by unsuspecting fans of STIK, have been returned after the buyers found out that the artist had not intended for them to be sold, but a large number are still missing.
"These artworks were intended as a gift to the people of Hackney, any which are returned will be redistributed to those who missed out," STIK was quoted as saying in the police statement.
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)