A powerful drawing honoring the 12 victims gunned down at the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters made the rounds on social media Wednesday after being shared by accounts long believed to belong to the artist Banksy.
The image, posted on Instagram and Facebook hours after hooded attackers armed with assault rifles stormed the magazine’s offices, garnered hundreds of thousands of likes, and hundreds of comments from users. Many thanked the popular and elusive street artist for his contribution.
But it’s now been revealed that the drawing belongs to Lucille Clerc, a 31-year-old French illustrator who splits her time between Paris and London.
Nicolas Pitzalis, Clerc’s agent in Paris, told The Times that the illustration is Clerc's, and that she shared the image on her own Instagram and Twitter accounts before they went viral.
Pitzalis says Clerc called him Thursday morning, taken aback by the attention the drawing was getting.
“She was very surprised,” Pitzalis said. Reached by phone Thursday, Clerc says she was moved by the response to her drawing, calling it a "spontaneous reaction" to Wednesday's events.
"I was devastated, like everyone," Clerc said. She hoped the drawing would inspire fellow artists to also pen encouraging messages honoring the victims. "Most people were talking about the act itself, and I wanted to talk about what comes after, the hope that you need to keep alive and that we need to react in a pacifist way, with our pens and words, like we've always done."
The initial confusion over the origin of the piece didn't bother her, Clerc said. "The important thing is that it speaks to people, and the more it spreads, the better," she said. "Hopefully it will create many, many more drawings with the same message."
Times staff writer Ryan Parker contributed to this report.
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