Banky’s graffiti of sneezing rats on the London Underground, which is worth an estimated £7.5 million, has been scrubbed away by mistake.
As a statement encouraging people to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic, Banksy spray-painted a series of rodents in carriages.
Until the video emerged the on July 14, no one was actually aware that it was an official piece of artwork by Banksy, as confirmed by a Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson. Therefore, it was treated as though it was just a regular piece of graffiti, so cleaners had absolutely no idea as they scrubbed it away.
A few days ago, Banksy took to the network whilst wearing his mask and daubed the carriage with COVID-19 infected vermin.
Co-founder of MyArtBroker.com, Joey Syer, believes that the piece of art could have been worth millions. He has over 25 years of experience in art dealing and is a specialist in Banksy’s work.
He told the Sun Online: “It’s a huge shame and opportunity lost for Londoners that the latest Banksy work has already been removed by the anti-graffiti teams at TfL.
“Of course, we understand why, and we understand it’s highly likely whoever removed it was following procedure and had no idea they were destroying a Banksy.
“Had TfL management known, and had the opportunity to remove and protect the installation we estimate it’s valued as a complete package to be in the region of £7.5million.
“Sadiq Khan must be kicking himself, but Banksy has yet again proved his ability to entertain and make a statement with such daring and style.”
A source told the Evening Standard that the TfL cleaners had not been aware of the significance of the work, explaining: “When we saw the video, we started to look into it and spoke to the cleaners.
“It started to emerge that they had noticed some sort of ‘rat thing’ a few days ago and cleaned it off, as they should.”
They continued: “We appreciate the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings, which the vast majority of customers on our transport network are doing.
‘In this particular case, the work was removed some days ago due to our strict anti-graffiti policy.
“We’d like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location.”
They added that when the graffiti was spotted, the train was pulled out of service to undergo a cleaning at the depot. It was then wiped over and then put back into use.
On the anonymous graffiti genius’s Instagram account, he showed himself entering the carriage wearing a hazmat suit, face mask and goggles. It has been suggested by some of the comments that he was meant to blend in with the TfL’s deep cleaners.
As he painted the stencils on train walls and windows after getting on and off at particular carriages, commuters watched on as he worked his magic.
In the footage, it was clear that commuters were trying their best not to stay at him as he sprayed a tag on the back wall of a tube carriage.
The artwork is meant to be interpreted as a message that people should be wearing masks in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The artist captioned the post: “If you don’t mask – you don’t get.”
Brits were told by the government that they would need to start wearing face coverings on public transport from June, and new measures have since been introduced which will be enforced in a few weeks time.