An early Banksy work — "Gorilla In A Pink Mask" — was reportedly recently painted over in the artist’s hometown of Bristol.
"Gorilla In A Pink Mask" was drawn on the side of a former social club turned into a Muslim cultural center.
Saeed Ahmed wanted to clean up a down-at-heel side wall, so he used emulsion to cover the graffiti. Little did he know that the graffiti was an early Banksy — now one of the U.K.'s most collectable artists.
Richard Pelter, director of the International Fine Art Conservation Studios, was invited to estimate the damage to the Banksy work. He said the mural could be recovered but it would be “painstaking and costly work.”
Ahmed apologized and told the Bristol Evening Post: "I thought it was worthless. I didn't know it was valuable. That's why I painted over it."
“It's quite a notable piece and something can be done I imagine but it would take quite a long time to get it sorted out properly,” said Pelter. "Given the right sort of conditions, I think you would probably be able to establish something. What I found was that the paint there was quite soluble underneath, but no one could actually tell me where it was on the wall. I was seeing if the upper layers of paint can be removed which they can, very carefully. It would take quite a long time and cost quite a bit of money to do it, probably hundreds going into the thousands, because of the complexity of it."
Local resident Dean Meadows told the BBC that whitewashing over the Bankys was a "big, big shame".
"It's currently being shared around the world on Twitter, so hopefully Banksy will hear and replace it himself," he said.