A man from Melbourne returned home yesterday to find that his father-in-law had painted over the rare and pricey Banksy artworks stencilled on the outside of his home.
The walls had been decorated by two Banksy stencils, one of a girl hugging a bomb and one of a rat, and both had been left by the British street artist during a secret visit to Melbourne a decade ago.
The father-in-law in question was apparently unaware of the graffiti's significance when he applied the fresh coat of paint, and managed to wipe out several other stencils by prominent artists, including a portrait of Keith Haring by San Francisco artist Peat Wollaeger, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Melbourne has had plenty of trouble hanging on to the trail of artworks created during Banksy's visit to the city. Last year construction workers accidentally destroyed an image of a parachuting rat while working on a cafe, and in 2010, another Banksy rat was removed by council cleaners who were sent to clean up the walls.
Banksy's artworks have been known to sell for more than $1 million, so we can only imagine the how the conversation between son-in-law and father-in-law panned out (it sounds like the son-in-law's spouse sensibly kept out of the situation). But while it's a terrible thing for public art to get obliterated in this way, it's also a little depressing to think of it sold for mega bucks at auction only to be kept behind closed doors.
Let's hope that the good people of Melbourne will start give a little more TLC to their street art scene from now on.