This has been a bad month for Banksy fans as the fate of several outdoor works are sealed by greedy art dealers and building restorers. The latest in a long list of defacements is in Liverpool, where an iconic rat holding a machine gun has been covered up by building works to the former Whitehouse pub, a grade II listed building.
The giant rat mural is located on the corner of Duke Street and Berry Street, in the city’s Chinatown area. It has been reproduced in several books on Banksy and is one of his largest works measuring in at 30 feet in height. The 200 year old building which has remained empty and in a state of decay for several years is undergoing a new layer of stucco. The bottom half of the rat which spills onto the boarded up windows has been put into storage. The removal of the upper bit of the painting would take a clear degree of expertise to remove and restore the fresco.
The company carrying out the ‘improvements’ have declined to comment and it is even possible that the work has been sold on to art dealers or consigned to auction. “Repeated phone calls to the building’s owner, Ascot Property Group, of Waterloo, failed to get an answer about the painting’s fate, whereabouts or future” stated; the Liverpool Echo newspaper. Stuart Howard, property manager for Ascot, added “Preservation of the painting is in the schedule of works submitted in the process of gaining council planning permission.“We are looking to do what is best for the building, which includes what is best for the local residents and for the city. Because it is a landmark we need to be sure it is the proper course of action.”
The recent controversial $1.1 million sale of Banksy’s mural Slave Labor, at a private auction in London is still a raw memory for the locals and members Haringey council who stated it should be kept in situ, where it was enjoyed by over a million visitors in a year. Last week yet another example of Banksy’s early large format street art was hacked from its wall on a Los Angeles petrol station and even though the artist will not receive a penny for its sale, the vandals who removed it stand to make millions from its dubious sale. Pest Control the official authentication board has continually denied to approve these works, as they are out of context and no longer what Banksy intended. In other words they were not created as gallery art and are no longer real Banksys.