A police investigation is underway after thousands of prints by Hackney-based artist Stick went missing.
The prints of the 2016 work Holding Hands were to be distributed to every household in the borough but a large number of residents failed to receive them and the matter was reported to the police by Hackney Council after they discovered batches were being sold online.
Locals were supposed to receive their 50cm x 50cm print from the street artist in the council-issued Hackney Today newspaper to celebrate the installation of a Holding Hands sculpture in Hoxton Square.
Around 1,000 prints have been returned but a large amount are still unaccounted for.
Detective Constable James Readman, of the Metropolitan Police’s central east command unit, called for the artworks to be returned.
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 has 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.”
Stik added the artworks were intended “as a gift to the people of Hackney”, and said any prints which are returned will be redistributed to those who missed out.
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 citing reference number CRIS 4626404/20 or can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 11.