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Stolen Banksy work honoring Bataclan victims found in Italy

L’AQUILA, Italy (AP) — Italian authorities on Thursday unveiled a stolen artwork by British artist Banksy that was painted as a tribute to the victims of the 2015 terror attacks at the Bataclan music hall in Paris.

L’Aquila prosecutors said the work was recovered on Wednesday during a search of a home in the countryside of Tortoreto, near the Adriatic coast in the Abruzzo region’s Teramo province. It had been “hidden well” in the attic, prosecutors said.

No arrests have been made.

French officials last year announced the theft of the piece, a black image appearing to depict a person mourning that was painted on one of the Bataclan’s emergency exit doors.

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Ninety people were killed at the Bataclan on Nov. 13, 2015, when Islamic extremists invaded the music hall, one of several targets that night in which a total of 130 people died.

Authorities said they were still investigating how the artwork arrived in Italy, and the role of any Italians potentially involved. They said the discovery was the fruit of a joint Italian-French police investigation.

At a news conference Thursday in L’Aquila, a French embassy liaison officer, Maj. Christophe Cengig, said the Bataclan owners were informed that the work had been recovered.

“It belongs to the Bataclan, it belongs to all of France in a sense,” he said. The owners, he added, “were thrilled, very happy.”

L’Aquila Prosecutor Michele Renzo said authorities believed the motivation for the theft was financial, not ideological.

Some Chinese nationals were living in the Tortoreto home, but they appeared unaware that the work was there. Teramo Carabinieri Col. Emanuele Pipola said someone else had access to the attic.

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