Transport For London has destroyed Banksy’s new Tube artwork, which art experts believe would have been worth a whopping £7.5 million.
Yesterday, the artist unveiled his newest stunt on Instagram, sharing a video of the work being created as moving through the Tube network.
In the video, titled ‘London Underground Undergoes Deep Clean,’ we see Banksy pops on a hazmat suit and hi-vis vest, before leaving his signature rat spray-painted image inside a carriage.
Based on his other works, the world’s leading authority on the anonymous artist has given an estimate of what its latest piece on a Tube train would be worth. Transport for London (TfL) said that due to a strict ‘no graffiti’ policy, workers had cleaned off the job on an Underground Circle Line train ‘some days ago.’ Joey Syer, co-founder of MyArtBroker said: ‘It’s a real shame and a lost opportunity for Londoners that the anti-graffiti teams at TfL have already removed the latest Banksy work.
Joey Syer, co-founder of MyArtBroker said the value of the installation is thought to be as much as £7.5m, adding that London Mayor Sadiq Khan must be ‘kicking himself’.
“We understand why, of course, and we understand that it is extremely likely that the person who removed it followed the protocol and had no idea that they destroyed a Banksy.”
“Had TfL management known, and had the opportunity to remove and protect the installation, we estimate its value as a complete package to be in the region of £7.5 million.
“It’s a shame the opportunity was missed to perhaps remove the carriage from the network and turn it into a tourist attraction for all Londoners and the world to enjoy.
“Sadiq Khan will kick himself, but Banksy has once again shown his ability to entertain and make a statement with such audacity and style.
A Transport For London spokesperson said in a statement: “We appreciate the sentiment that the vast majority of customers on our transport system are encouraging people to wear face covers.
“In this particular case , due to our strict anti-graffiti policy, the work was removed a few days ago. We would like to offer Banksy the opportunity to do a new version of its message for our customers in an appropriate location.”
They would not comment on the artwork’s estimated value, or confirm whether TfL staff knew it was an original Banksy – but sources suggested that they had no clue. In May, the government paid TfL a £1.6bn bailout package to help keep Tube and bus services running until September. Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that during lockdown the body was close to running out of money and would have to operate a reduced service in order to survive.
Banksy uploaded a short video with the caption ‘If you don’t mask – you don’t get’ to Instagram and YouTube yesterday afternoon. The minute-long clip shows a guy, assumed to be the enigmatic artist, entering an underground station wearing a protective suit, as if to start a deep clean. But it soon becomes apparent that instead of cleaning product, the tank he holds is full of spray paint, as multiple scenes show him spray painting some of his famous rats on the Tube carriage window and walls. One rat was portrayed across the train window with sneezing green droplets indicating coronavirus spread.
Other works show rats using discarded masks as parachutes, as well as one using antibacterial gel – a clear reference to the pandemic and the measures put in place to help stop the spread of the virus.