Banksy mural accidentally painted over

The Hackney Council had workers paint over an East London mural by famed street artist Banksy. The mural was on a private building and it was painted over by, er, mistake. The Council had sent letters requesting to "clean" the building but they had gone to the wrong address. From the BBC News:
 Media Images 46323000 Jpg  46323030 BanksyafterProperty owner Sofie Attrill gave consent for the mural to be painted on the building so it could be photographed for the launch of Blur's 2003 single Crazy Beat.

Since then it has attracted tourists from all over the world and become a local landmark...

Hackney Council was initially unrepentant.

Cllr Alan Laing said: "The council's position is not to make a judgement call on whether graffiti is art."

But he later added: "Due to a problem at the land registry unfortunately our letters stating our intention to clean this building didn't reach the owner.

"As soon as we realised this, work stopped. We are now speaking with her about how to resolve the issue."
Blur Banksy is ruined by mistake (Thanks, Antinous!)


  1. Seriously, though, isn’t this how regular building owners feel when graffiti artists practice their art without permission on walls they don’t own? I know this was a mistake, but I’m sure Bansky has put up shit without permission numerous times before. Looks like the shoe is now on the other foot.

  2. The worst/most incompetent thing about this, is not only did they have an old address for the building’s owner.. but WHY didn’t they send a copy of their letters to the building itself?!

    I mean, shouldn’t that be the FIRST place you try, anyway?

  3. You make Hackney sound better than they deserve. Here’s a quote from the BBC article:

    Ms Attrill, 50, a property manager who lives in the building, said workmen used rollers to cover it in black paint.
    She said: “The workmen were smiling as they did it – they thought it was funny.
    “I just burst into tears. But a crowd gathered and we managed to get them to stop before destroying it completely.”

    The workmen didn’t even stop when told to by the building’s owner. Sue them and the council for criminal damage. That mural was priceless.

  4. Trippcook @1

    Sometimes, I’m sure it is. It depends on the extent to which the building’s owner gives a hoot what their property looks like or does to its neighbourhood, on how the property’s owner feels about graffiti, and doubtless on the quality of the graffiti. Given that Banksy’s work increases the value of anything it goes up on, he probably has a backlog of people who want his pieces on their properties.

    At least in my city, most graffiti is on city-made eyesores of brutalist grey concrete that couldn’t possibly be made uglier. The relatively small amount of graffiti on private property is mainly on neglected ugly buildings which, if their owners cared the least bit what they looked like, would either be maintained or demolished.

    Unfortunately there are also graffiti writers who put shoddy lame work on well-maintained private property, and I wish there were some way of getting to them directly and giving them a shake…

    I rather doubt Banksy has not put up shit anywhere, with permission or otherwise. He may have put up mind-bogglingly beautiful art without permission, but not shit.

    Incidentally, I’m impressed you didn’t use scare quotes – …when graffiti “artists” practice their “art” without permission … – much more menacing that way, isn’t it?

  5. Hold the phone, you mean somebody made a bureaucratic mistake?! QUEL HORREUR! Shit happens. Stuff unattended outdoors is more prone to shit happening to it. It was a mistake which has been admited to and they are discussing what to do about it. Not a huge deal.

  6. Balls. I was going to show that to my girlfriend’s brother when he visits on the weekend. I only live a few minutes walk away.

  7. Also, fair play on Stokie for being the only place in London where you can gather an angry anti-authoritarian mob spontaneously within minutes; if a middle class, very polite, angry anti-authoritarian mob.

  8. As a law student I see two important issues: 1) this sounds exactly like ‘trespass to chattel’ which is just fancy tortspeak for saying that they harmed his property in a way that affects its value; and 2) from what I understand, the maxim “you can’t sue City Hall” is figuratively if not literally true in most cases.

    also; 3)I study US law so I have no idea what the British do when the city acts negligently.

  9. I live round the corner, and always thought it was an ugly mural (although I do generally quite like Banksy’s work).

    I feel sad for the owner of the property though.

  10. Ultimately everything is ephemeral; Leonardo’s “Last Supper” fresco began to disintegrate before he was even done painting it. Someday the sun will burn out and all our art will be cold ashes– enjoy it while you can. I’m sure during it’s lifetime plenty of people saw the mural and enjoyed it (or were annoyed by it, also a valid response) so it served its purpose.

    So it goes.

  11. Trippcook, this isn’t a case of “shoe on the other foot”. It’s exactly the same thing as regular graffiti – a third party has damaged a wall belonging to a property owner without permission. Only in this case the perpetrator is the council rather than a dumb kid with a spraycan.

  12. Damon Albarn’s Blur commissioned the piece in 2003

    I find it weird that people draw a link between a commisioned artwork on private property and a thoughtless tag on an underpass.
    Just because it’s both referred to as “graffiti” doesn’t mean it’s all the same you know.

    regardless of your artistic take on the work, it’s both valuable and private property.

    Some money is used for bad deeds, so can the council burn mine?

  13. I’m surprised at some of the blase reactions here. This seems in no way different than somebody walking into your house and painting over the art on your inside walls. Natural wear-and-tear of art is of course to be expected, all the more so for a work on the outside of a building, but this was clearly a premeditated act (albeit one on faulty pretenses). And the fact that the workers continued to paint over the piece after THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY told them to stop is entirely absurd. Considering that Banksy pieces have been sold at auction for over 100,000 pounds in the past, I would say that the building’s owner should be in line to receive quite a tidy sum in damages.

  14. @ DragonFrog#8

    The relatively small amount of graffiti on private property is mainly on neglected ugly buildings

    I’m not sure where you get your information but I can tell you that in the US, illegal graffiti is a huge problem.

    I work for a large company that routinely shuts down public restrooms and even closes down stores because of out of control graffiti. This results in people losing their jobs and neighborhoods losing one more option for shopping. The company spends MILLIONS a year repairing graffiti damage. This cost is passed onto the company’s customers.

    The recent fad of turning vandals into accepted “street artists” has only encouraged the legions of copycat mouth breathers out there into buying another magic marker or acid pen.

  15. trippcook #1:

    …I’m sure Bansky has put up shit without permission numerous times before. Looks like the shoe is now on the other foot.

    Maybe the shoe would be on the other foot if the wall defaced had belonged to Banksy, but as it happens this property owner did nothing wrong and had their wall defaced by the city council without provocation.

  16. This is exactly the problem with the surveillance camera’s I hear are so common in the UK. Most politicians are small minded dolts who will gladly and smugly abuse their limited power to get “the kids” off their lawns.

  17. From the story:

    “Hackney Council needed permission to remove the mural because it was on private property.

    But its letters were sent to an address Ms Attrill lived at 25 years ago.

    After receiving no response the council served an enforcement notice.

    But he later added: “Due to a problem at the land registry unfortunately our letters stating our intention to clean this building didn’t reach the owner. ”

    Anything seem similar to fiction?

    “But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”
    “Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”
    “But the plans were on display …”
    “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
    “That’s the display department.”
    “With a flashlight.”
    “Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
    “So had the stairs.”
    “But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”
    “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

  18. The R Kelly, the maxim is “you can’t BEAT city hall,” which is quite different from suing city hall and, also, completely untrue. People sue their cities/counties/states all the time and many win huge settlements. In the US, anyway, not sure about elsewhere.

  19. I live a couple of blocks away from this. It’s only the latest instance of Hackney Council’s obsessive campaign to make sure no walls are allowed to be decorated. A few weeks ago, further up the same street they painted over a 2nd Storey mural that has been there for more than 30 years, ignoring the property owner’s wishes and much to the annoyance of a school that the mural faced onto. Only makes me more determined to graffiti everything that isn’t actually moving.

  20. I think it’s too bad that they can’t leave things alone, but the hype with Banksy is so annoying. I do understand the loss of value though. That’s really awful for the owner. I’d rather have my building covered with the less valuable graffiti though… or none.

  21. I’m amazed at Banksy’s ability to continue pushing the limit. Even when he does art that’s completely legal, it’s still pushing buttons and getting the government up in arms. The fact that this was painted over renews the dialogue of ‘what is art’ and where the boundaries lie. There are so many artists trying to push the limit of art in galleries and 99 times out of 100 it’s just pathetic to watch. Banksy, on the other hand, continues to fascinate and offend. How many other artists can say that?

  22. Well I’ll be damned. If I wasn’t having this very conversation elsewhere on BB, yesterday.

    Raspop will be amused :)

  23. Um. A lot of the comments here boil down to, “some graffiti is illegal therefore it’s ok to destroy all graffiti”.

    Ok, some cars are used to ramraid shops. So I’m going to set fire to YOUR car. Haha, shoe’s on the other foot now eh?

  24. @nosarembo

    I thought it was more like, “Yes, this is wrong – but now you know how other people feel.”

  25. I’m sure Banksy isn’t losing any sleep over this. Artists like him are always living 5 minutes in the future anyway.

    Too bad for the building’s owners though… and the community.

    @9 Yet nobody seems to cry and gather round nor deem it newsworthy when a billboard is torn down.

  26. Seriously, though, isn’t this how regular building owners feel when graffiti artists practice their art without permission on walls they don’t own?

    I feel far more sorry towards the millions of people that are forced to look at giant banners telling them to Enjoy Coca Cola and wear Kayser Underwear (no matter what shaped stick insect you are).

    The only differences I see between street art and most outdoor advertising are
    a) a lot of money.
    b) street artists aren’t usually trying to sell you anything.

    Rant aside

    The council shouldn’t be defacing anyone’s walls, stating that it’s no different to a kid defacing a wall with a spray can just highlights the fact that there should be a difference between some kid and the council. The council should be held responsible to a far higher level.

  27. “b) street artists aren’t usually trying to sell you anything.”

    Banksy is selling his own name, as art, that’s a large part of what he gets by on. If this had been some random tagger, would you still be all over the story? Of course not, it goes on all the time.

    Honestly, I love graffiti, but I would still be angry if someone struck my garage door (happens all the freaking time where I live) w/o permission. Just as this woman has the right to be angry about the council taking down her painting. But let’s not confuse this with the majority of the graffiti that goes on out there.

  28. It was only an ‘accident’ in that they got rumbled for it.

    I blame podgy, out-of touch councilors with a vindictive streak against the young and all of their art forms…

    I dislike mock Tudor homes… I think they are an eyesore, so here’s the deal – every time you paint black over something I consider to be art, I’ll paint one of your houses pink.

  29. Best solution: Sue the city to pay Banksy to paint a new mural. Then Banksy donates the money to a campaign to remove every single member of the city council.

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