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Police arrest men suspected of stealing Space Invader mosaics from Paris walls

Police have arrested two men who allegedly posed as municipal workers and stripped Paris walls of mosaic works from a French urban artist known as Invader.

Police arrest men suspected of stealing Space Invader mosaics from Paris walls
'Hong Kong Phooey' by the French artist known as Invader on exhibition in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP
The pair were detained on Wednesday evening as they were climbing a ladder, dressed in fluorescent green jackets like those of city workers, to scrape off one of the works made up of tiny tiles as their Mercedes car was parked beside them. 
 
More than a dozen pieces from the artist had been torn from walls all around the city in recent weeks.
 
Invader, whose real name or identity is unknown, produces mosaic works using bathroom tiles that hark back stylistically to early video games such as 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.
 
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Two years ago, his mosaic of 1970s American cartoon character Hong Kong Phooey sold at auction at Sotheby's in Hong Kong for HK$2 million (€210,000).
 
Paris City Hall said in August it “has decided to file a complaint for abuse of functions” because the two suspected thieves “were disguised as Paris city workers” in order to steal the mosaic works.
 
Authorities were alerted to the thefts on social media, with Parisians snapping pictures of the pretend workers on Twitter and asking why the city was removing the mosaics.
 
Invader previously addressed the issue of theft on his official website, saying that his pieces have been “removed, damaged or destroyed by individuals who seek to resell them.”
 
But the artist added: “Given the type of tiles I use, to steal the work is impossible. These individuals by removing the mosaics destroy the piece and then have to buy ceramics to repair or recreate the work.”

CRIME

How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

France is set to announce new measures this week to prevent youngsters from accessing porn websites, in the latest round of a years-long struggle to protect children from explicit material.

How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

“I plan to put an end to this scandal,” Digital Affairs Minister Jean-Noel Barrot told the Parisien newspaper on Monday.

France’s data protection and media regulators Cnil and Arcom are set to announce their latest proposals to rein in porn websites which are in theory subject to a 2020 law requiring age verification.

Previous attempts have been held up by privacy and technical concerns, as well as court action by the websites.

To its frustration last September, a Paris court ordered Arcom to enter into mediation with several porn websites including market leader Pornhub, holding up efforts to block them.

READ MORE: France hits Google and Facebook with huge fines over ‘cookies’

Under the new proposal, people wanting to access explicit material will need to download a phone application that provides them with a digital certificate and code, the Parisien reported.

The code will be needed to access a porn website under a system “which will work a bit like the checks from your bank when you buy something online,” Barrot told the newspaper.

“2023 will mark the end of our children accessing pornographic sites,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron, who is married to former school teacher Brigitte Macron, promised to make protecting children from porn a priority during his bid for re-election last year.

In November, he launched the Children Online Protection Laboratory, an initiative that aims to bring together industry giants and researchers to look for ways to shield minors online.

In September last year, a report entitled “Hell Behind the Scenes” by French senators concluded that there was “massive, ordinary and toxic” viewing of porn by children.

The report found that two thirds of children aged 15 or less had seen pornographic content.

The French production industry has been roiled by a series of sexual assault cases in recent years in which women have come forward to allege rape, mistreatment and manipulation by directors and fellow actors.

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