In a move sure to anger Melbourne’s street art community, council’s anti-graffiti crew has painted over what is believed to be the only remaining work by the enigmatic British artist left in the city, the Melbourne Leader reports.
The image of a rat descending in a parachute adorned the wall of an old council building behind the Forum in Hosier Lane.
Hugh Thorne, of Hosier Lane cocktail bar Misty Place, said council officers had told him about the mistake this morning.
“It’s a shame, but no one really knew it was there. It was a quiet one,” Mr Thorne said.
Vandals created a public outcry in 2008 when they poured paint over another iconic Banksy stencil of an old-fashioned diver wearing a trenchcoat on the corner of Swanston St and Flinders Lane. In that same year, another Banksy artwork stencilled onto a London wall sold for $472,528.
Melbourne Council has introduced a permit system that can give building owners permission to display graffiti works, but Mr Thorne said the building displaying Banksy’s rat did not have one.
“The council is trying to clean up all of the tagging in the city and they’re trying to differentiate between tagging and street art and I guess in this case they just couldn’t,” Mr Thorne said.
“At the end of the day, if they really want to get an art restorer in and spend thousands of dollars they could bring it back.”
Melbourne Leader is awaiting comment from the council.