A bungling erased a famous piece of work by street artist Banksy – after mistaking it for graffiti, it has emerged.
The ‘Gorilla in a Pink Mask’ stencil on the wall of a former social club had been a familiar landmark in Eastville, Bristol – Banksy’s home city – for more than 10 years.
It depicted a large hairy gorilla holding up a pink eye mask to his face.
But the iconic picture, on Bristol’s Fishponds Road, was whitewashed after the building was turned into a Muslim cultural centre.
Saeed Ahmed, owner of the cultural centre, said he assumed it was a regular piece of graffiti and confirmed he had it painted over the Banksy.
Mr Ahmed, who claimed never to have heard of the famous artist, said: ”I thought it was worthless.
”I didn’t it know it was valuable. That’s why I painted over it. I really am sorry if people are upset.”
The owner said he was willing to explore options to see if the whitewash can be removed and the painting restored.
Neighbour Dean Meadows said: ”It is a big, big shame. It’s currently being shared around the world on Twitter, so hopefully Banksy will hear and replace it himself.”
Banksy began work as a graffiti artist in Bristol in the early 1990s, but has become a household name in the last decade – grossing £millions from his work.
The artist was nominated for an Oscar in 2010 for his film Exit Through the Gift Shop, but failed to turn up to the glittering ceremony.