Over the Christmas holiday, a rare Banksy mural in the city of New Orleans was vandalized.
Whoever the vandal was, they cut through plexiglass to get to the mural. Once they did, they sprayed the phrase 'Team Robbo' on in using red paint.
Banksy is an international phenomenon and street art superstar. This particular painting was 12 years old, located close to the intersection of Carondelet and Clio streets.
The owner of the property, Greg Surrey, a restaurateur, claims to have seen the mural last on Christmas Eve, when it appeared undisturbed. Julie Posner is an office manager working for Surrey. She was the one who noticed something amiss the day after Christmas.
The sight of the vandalism disheartened her, considering how vivid the red was and how permanent the vandalism seems to be.
While it's not immediately clear, the red tag vandalism might be a reference to a person known as King Robbo. He is a late graffiti writer from England that purportedly feuded personally with Banksy. The shape cut out of the plastic barrier is possibly indicative of a tombstone shape.
Surrey intends to get the tag removed. He also plans on replacing the plastic barrier.
The painting in question is often called "The Gray Ghost". It's one of roughly a dozen or more stencil works that showed up out of the blue in the New Orleans area late in August of 2008. At the time, Hurricane Gustav was forcing the city of New Orleans to be evacuated. That's when the always secretive Banksy and a number of associates went around the city creating building art from Uptown to the Lower 9th Ward.
The mural of "The Gray Ghost" is a depiction of a graffiti eradicator trying to blot out a sunflower painting. It was intended to highlight the inherent conflict between local authorities and street artists. That distinguished it from most of the other 2008 paintings that focused on the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina three years prior.
Surrey himself authorized Banksy to paint the 2008 mural, although he said that at the time the artist wasn't aware of the continuing tension between graffiti writers in New Orleans and the Operation Clean Sweep group trying to paint over street art and tagging. Fred Radtke was the founder of the area's graffiti eradication movement, and nicknamed "The Gray Ghost" for using gray paint over tags. He's commonly thought to be the figure in the defaced Banksy painting.