Banksy artwork removed less than an hour after artist revealed it online

A man is pictured removing a Banksy artwork from a street in south London.

A man is pictured removing a Banksy artwork from a street in south London.Aaron Chown/APLondonCNN — 

A new artwork by Banksy has reportedly been removed from a London street shortly after the artist posted about it on Instagram.

The anonymous artist posted a series of photos of the work – which consists of three drones on a stop sign – on social media around midday Friday local time (7 a.m. ET).

But by 12.30 p.m. two men were seen removing the sign from a junction in Peckham, southeast London, using bolt cutters, witnesses told the PA Media news agency.

“I opened Instagram and I saw it was posted four minutes before and I was about to go on my lunch break. There were about two people there when I got there. We were all sort of admiring it and taking pictures,” Alex, 26, told PA.

“This guy comes up and grabs it, we watched in awe as he bashed it,” added Alex, who recounted how the man failed to remove the sign using his hands and went away for a few minutes before returning with bolt cutters.

“We said ‘what are you doing?’ but no one really knew what to do, we sort of just watched it happen. We were all a bit bemused,” the witness continued.

The man appeared to take the sign away.

The man appeared to take the sign away.Aaron Chown/AP

“He ripped it off and ran across the road and ran away. He said nothing. He didn’t seem to care that much about the art itself,” added Alex.

Another witness, who told PA he preferred to remain anonymous, expressed disappointment that the sign had been removed.

“It is strange, these pieces of art are nice, it would be nice if it had stayed there for a while,” he said.

Banksy mural worth over $1.2m lost as building demolished

PA reported that Banksy himself is not thought to be behind the removal of the artwork.

The mysterious artist is known to confirm his works on social media without providing any further comment.

Some have interpreted the latest piece as a call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, given that Banksy is known to support the Palestinian cause.

The artist owns a hotel in the city of Bethlehem, which is located a few steps from Israel’s imposing separation barrier that runs through the occupied West Bank.

Three Banksy paintings raise $2.9 million at auction for Palestinian hospital

Banksy opened the Walled Off Hotel in 2017 to draw attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it bills itself as the hotel with the “worst view in the world.”

Though the market value of his work has soared in recent years, Banksy continues to produce works in public spaces that make preservation near impossible – and even invite theft or defacement.

“Spy booth,” one of Banksy’s most famous murals, depicting three secret agents surrounding a phone booth with recording equipment, was destroyed in 2016.

And in February this year, an abandoned freezer forming part of an artwork that had appeared in the English town of Margate was taken away just hours after Banksy confirmed the piece as his.

In 2018, the artist famously destroyed one of his own works – his painting of a girl with a red balloon shredded itself, moments after selling at auction for $1.4 million.

CNN’s Lianne Kolirin, Zeena Saifi and Nadeem Muaddi contributed to this report.

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