Famous, anonymous, British street artist Banksy secretly financed a yacht to rescue migrants from Africa who are trying to reach Europe, risking their lives in the process. The boat is called Louise Michel after a French feminist anarchist, and departed from Burriana, Spain, on August 18 to roam the Mediterranean Sea in search of people in distress.
On Thursday, the experienced crew rescued 89 people, including 14 women and four children. Now it’s looking for a safe port so passengers can disembark, or be transferred to a coast guard ship. Fittingly, the ship features some of Bansky’s artwork — a girl in a life vest holding a safety buoy shaped like a heart.
The MV Louise Michel just refueled after the first successful rescue operations last week and is now going to a standby position, fully ready to rescue. #DefendSolidarity #LouiseMichel pic.twitter.com/64UGtZoHlC
— LouiseMichel (@MVLouiseMichel) August 25, 2020
The ship’s mission had remained secret until now for fear that European authorities would compromise the project.
Banksy became involved in the rescue mission back in September 2019, when he emailed Pia Klemp, the former captain of several NGO rescue boats that have saved thousands of lives over the years. His email to her read, “Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass. I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.”
While Klemp thought the message was a joke at first, Banksy’s desire to be involved was very real and has already come to fruition in a big way.