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Last Updated: Friday, 25 March, 2005, 15:23 GMT
Prankster infiltrates NY museums
"Give peace a chance" by UK graffiti artist Banksy
Two of the works carried an anti-war message
A British graffiti artist has managed to evade security and hang his work in four of New York's most prestigious and well-guarded museums.

"Banksy", who has never disclosed his real identity, claims to have carried out the unusual smuggling operation on one day, during opening hours.

Some of the pieces went undetected for several days - such as a beetle with missiles attached to its body.

Banksy raided the Metropolitan Museum, but decided to spare the Guggenheim.

"I would have had to appear between two Picassos," he said.

"And I'm not good enough to get away with that."

Hi-tech bug

The three other museums which unwittingly hosted some of Banksy's work were the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Brooklyn Museum and the American Museum of Natural History.

They've got their eye a lot more on things leaving than things going in, which works in my favour
Banksy has staged similar stunts in the past, managing to smuggle some works into Britain's Tate Gallery and the Louvre in France.

He told Reuters news agency he had been inspired to do so by his sister, who once threw away several of his pictures saying they would never hang in the world-renowned Paris museum.

His unusual pieces of art briefly on display in New York included a military officer holding a spray can with anti-war graffiti in the background - which he smuggled into the Brooklyn Museum.

A hi-tech beetle, equipped with missiles stuck to its wings, was hung in the Natural History Museum's "Hall of biodiversity".

Asked how he managed to dodge security checks, Banksy said he used a fake beard and was helped by accomplices who distracted museum personnel.

"Obviously, they've got their eye a lot more on things leaving than things going in, which works in my favour."

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