A team of Banksy fans were collared by police after trying to protect one of his latest artworks — with anti-grafitti paint.
The mural of 1950s-style spies – clad in trench coats and trilby hats – sprang up around a telephone box on the side of a house in Cheltenham, Gloucs, last month.
It has already been targeted by vandals who were caught defacing the stencil work with white paint which was wiped off by quick-thinking locals just before it dried.
The close call prompted street artist Dice Sixtyseven and friend Phil Richards to paint the artwork with transparent anti-graffiti paint.
But the pair were challenged by a number of residents – and then the police – who thought they were ruining the mural.
- Youth club offered £1 MILLION for Banksy mural and rare letter from the artist
- Street artist who destroyed a £150k Banksy COMPLAINS after his worthless piece is pulled down
- Banksy writes to youth club to say mural belongs to THEM after council confiscated it
Dice Sixtyseven said: “We took it upon ourselves to do something about preserving it.
“We put two coats on the ‘Banksy’ and went down to put the third and final coat on it, when this big ‘heavy’ came out of the pub and started asking what we were doing.
“Fortunately Phil knows him, so we were OK.
“Then we started painting and a girl came up to us. She must only have been about 23, but she challenged us.
“She was driving past and parked up her car and came over to ask what we thought we were doing.
“Then two minutes later the police turned up, with sirens going.
“Once we explained to the officer what we were doing, he let us carry on.
“Banksy would love it that we’ve used anti graffiti paint to save a piece of graffiti and that police had been called, for us protecting what is really an example of criminal damage.”
Dice Sixtyseven – who is also an anonymous grafitti artist – said it was encouraging how quickly people leapt to the mural’s defence.
He said: “It’s good how much people have taken it to their hearts.
“Residents were quite happy to jump in when they saw it being painted.
“The anti graffiti paint will hopefully preserve it for good.”
The GCHQ-inspired artwork appeared on the side of the house earlier this month.
Tenant Karen Smith, 48, heard voices outside in the early hours but thought nothing of it until she spotted men loading huge screens into a van.
She watched them zoom off before finding a painting of three spies on the side of her #300,000 three-bed semi.