Banksy Tree Mural Defaced With White Paint Days After It Appeared

Shortly after a new Banksy mural appeared on the wall of a residential building in north London, it was defaced with white paint.

The artwork features a life-size stencil of a woman holding a pressure washer and spraying bright green paint on the wall behind a pruned cherry tree. The dripping paint resembles the leaves that once appeared on the tree.

On March 18, Banksy confirmed credit for the mural after posting images of it on his popular Instagram page (12.3 million followers).

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Despite being surrounded by a protective metal fence, local residents discovered on the morning of March 20 that white paint had been thrown onto the artwork.

The local borough authority, the Islington council, said it was installing closed-circuit television security cameras and looking at other methods to protect the work.

A Council spokesperson told BBC News the authority had welcomed the Banksy artwork to the London neighborhood: “We very much want it to stay.”

“This is a really powerful piece, which highlights the vital role that trees play in our communities … in tackling the climate emergency. It’s sad to see the piece has been defaced,” they added.

The installation of the mural in London follows the recent sale of Banksy’s Flower Thrower Triptych (2017) on the opening night of the Christie’s auction of Elton John’s collection in February. The triptych sold for $1.93 million, exceeding its high estimate of $1.5 million, and easily becoming the highlight of the evening.

Given their immense market value, security concerns over Banksy works remain an ongoing concern.

In 2020 a Banksy mural in southwest England that appeared on Valentine’s Day was temporarily covered after it was defaced. Depicting a girl shooting flowers from a catapult, it was later fenced off, and a closed-circuit television was installed nearby.

A year later, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, a vandal was caught defacing another one of Banksy’s murals with white paint—this one depicting one of his signature rats, sipping a cocktail. East Suffolk Council were “appalled,” according to a statement, and began security patrols in the area to deter future such incidents.

More recently, a Banksy work painted on a stop sign in London was stolen only after hours after he confirmed its authenticity; the thieves snapped the sign with bolt cutters before fleeing.

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