THIEVES used power tools to remove a graffiti mural in Warwickshire – thinking they had a Banksy.
The work had been sprayed onto wooden panelling on the side of a disused car wash in Rugby just two days before the thieves late night strike.
But the Observer can reveal they have not got a highly prized and valuable Banksy – the anonymous graffiti artist whose distinctive stencilled street art has appeared throughout the world – but rather a work by a Birmingham graffiti artist known as Itchers.
The work was first spotted by Observer reader Terry Brown on the now empty Rugby Hand Car Wash building in Newbold Road.
But within 48 hours thieves were on scene with power tools and a van hoping to make a fortune.
Sutton Coldfield-based Itchers said he wanted to venture out to new territory, having been graffitiing around Birmingham for the past ten years.
The 26-year-old said: “It was my first time in Rugby. I’ve done a few others outside Birmingham but I never really claim them. This is only the fourth time that I’ve admitted to a piece.”
The mural – depicting a figure in a suit and hat crouching next to a backpack with the words ‘Pink Bow Mob’ – aimed to highlight the work done by Cancer Research in their fight against one of the world’s biggest killers.
He added he was not happy the mural had been taken.
“It’s sort of crazy but it happens all the time with street art,” he said. “It belongs on the street and it’s not right that it gets moved.
“I wanted it to run a bit longer. I do it for people to appreciate, and when it’s taken away it does annoy me.
“I’m curious as to where it’s gone. I’d like to know what they’ve done with it – I’m guessing they thought it was a Banksy.”
The publicity-shy Banksy has been operating as graffiti artist for two decades. His works make headlines around the world when they suddenly appear.
When his most recent work appeared on a garage in Port Talbot in South Wales, a security guard was employed to protect it.
And he also has a reputation for challenging the art world. A work which sold at Sotheby’s in December for more than £1million shredded itself seconds after the hammer went down.