Would-be Banksy art bandit’s location unknown

Much like the secretive British artist Banksy, the location of the man believed to be the would-be Banksy bandit is unknown.

But even though he remains at large after allegedly trying to chisel out Banksy’s “Girl With Umbrella” from a wall of a building at North Rampart and Kerlerec streets late last month, he, unlike the cryptic painter, now has a name: Christopher Sensabaugh.

New Orleans police said Thursday that a warrant has been issued for Sensabaugh, 30, who is wanted on counts of attempted theft and criminal damage to property.

The Banksy painting in question appeared in 2008, when the internationally known, but highly mysterious, graffiti artist came to the city and covertly completed more than a dozen stencil paintings around the city.

On Feb. 21, neighbors who live near the Faubourg Marigny corner where “Girl” was protected behind Plexiglas noticed a plywood curtain had gone up around the edge of the building. Those who took a peek behind the barrier saw four men using power tools to chisel out the painting.

The men claimed they had orders to remove the painting and take it to a museum, but they could not provide details about what museum and could not produce any documentation or permits related to the work.

Later, a local photographer heard about the work and made his way over to snap photos. Charlie Varley said one man who was there when he arrived said only that his name was “Chris” and he was a “private art handler from Los Angeles.”

Chris allegedly claimed the artwork was to be sent to London for a Banksy retrospective in April at the Tate Modern art gallery and it would be reinstalled in New Orleans after the show.

The Daily Mail, a London newspaper, said gallery officials denied that statement and said they do not have any Banksy exhibition scheduled.

After about 10 minutes of allowing Varley to snap pictures, Chris apparently had had enough.

“You got enough f------ photos?” he shouted at Varley. “I think you got enough now. Can you go?”

After being confronted by neighbors, Chris and the other unidentified men packed up their gear and left.

Police have said the men drove away in a white, 10-foot Budget rental truck.

No other warrants have been issued.

Robert Abdalian, an attorney for Mantua LLC, the building’s owner, has said the painting’s removal was not authorized. He said Thursday that neither he nor the building’s owners know Sensabaugh. He said the building has been repaired since the incident.

Anyone with information about Sensabaugh’s whereabouts is asked to contact 8th District Detective Jerusha Carroll at (504) 658-6732 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.