Detectives from the Central East Command Unit are investigating the theft of thousands of prints by the Hackney-based artist STIK and are urging their safe return

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The prints were a 50cm x 50cm poster of one of his 2016 works called ‘Holding Hands’, featuring a drawing of two STIK individuals holding hands. The prints were created to celebrate the installation of STIK’s ‘Holding Hands’ sculpture in Hoxton Square.

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.

His studio worked with Hackney Council to arrange the print and distribution of 100,000 copies of the print to be given to residents via the monthly issue of the council-issued Hackney Today newspaper. The prints were delivered to the distributor on 19 September.

The posters were printed in five colours in total – teal, blue, red, orange and yellow, and every household was to receive a single print in the late September edition.

Some residents were happy to get the paper and receive their print. However it became apparent that a large number of residents did not receive a copy.

STIK’s studio began looking into the matter and soon noticed that there appeared to be large batches being sold online.

The matter was raised to Hackney Council and reported to the police, who began an investigation.

Around 1000 prints, bought by unsuspecting fans, have been returned after they learned that the way they had bought them was not in the spirit the artist intended.

However there are still a large amount that are still unaccounted for, and the artist, police and Hackney Council are urging their safe return.

STIK said: These artworks were intended as a gift to the people of Hackney, any which are returned will be re-distributed to those who missed out.”

DC James Readman, Central East Command Unit, is investigating. He said: “The artist began this project as a gift to the people of Hackney and paid a substantial amount of money out of his own pocket to meet the cost of printing.

“While some residents happily received theirs, many thousands of others were left very disappointed. We are working with the artist, and Hackney Council, to identify what was happened.

“It appears at this stage that somewhere along the supply and distribution chain, boxes containing thousands of copies of the print have been taken without permission and sold on.

“I urge anyone who has information as to the whereabouts of large quantities of the missing prints to make contact with us, so that we can right this wrong and help ensure they end up with the people that were intended to receive them.”

Hackney Council said: “STIK’s posters were intended as a gift for Hackney’s residents after months of huge uncertainty and challenge. It is therefore disappointing to learn that an individual or group of individuals has chosen to steal them for personal gain. This has left residents who missed out upset and we are grateful to STIK and to everyone who has worked hard on the delivery of these posters and will do all we can to have them returned.”

Anyone with information that could assist police is asked to call 101 ref CRIS 4626404/20.