April 30, 2009

Graffiti-busting volunteers paint over art

A British man said volunteers clearing graffiti inadvertently painted over a work by street artist Banksy that he was planning to sell for nearly $7,400.

Julian Chatt said the painting of popular children's book character Paddington Bear with the caption Migration is not a crime on a wall he owns was a casualty of the volunteer graffiti cleanup effort in Glastonbury, England, The Guardian reported Thursday.

I'd spoken to the town council in the past and asked them not to paint over the artwork, Chatt said to the newspaper. Sure enough, the last few times the council have been out they didn't paint it over. But on Saturday morning, I came out of my house and there was this chemical smell, and when I turned the corner Paddington was gone.

Chatt said no one had sought his permission to paint over the wall and his insurance provider is looking into whether the painting was covered by his policy. He said the painting's destruction came just as he was finalizing a deal to sell the artwork.

A Glastonbury town council spokeswoman acknowledged the error.

If we made a mistake we'll hold our hands up and say sorry, she told The Guardian. (Chatt has) been advised he can make a claim against the council, which he hasn't done yet. Several places were repainted as part of our anti-graffiti drive.