Hotel Workers in Jamaica Mistakenly Paint Over a $5 Million Banksy Mural


It's not always easy to spot art when it's outside of a gallery or museum. A group of maintenance workers at a five-star hotel in Jamaica recently mistakenly painted over street art by mysterious British artist Banksy. The piece had an estimated worth upwards of $5 million, The Daily Mail reports.

The stencils at the Geejam Hotel in the Jamaican city of Port Antonio date back to a 2006 stay for the reclusive spray-painter, whose subversive art can be found on random city walls all over the globe. The hotel’s owner, British music industry executive Jon Baker, who allegedly met Banksy when they were both students at the Chelsea School of Art in London, commissioned the artist to pepper different distinctive rat designs throughout the hotel. The signature images include one of a rat holding a boombox and another outfitted in a British bowler hat and umbrella.

“[Banksy] left 11 stencils as a gift, and these proved a huge hit with guests,” a hotel source told The Daily Mail. The guests may have loved the artistic cred of the hotel, but the pieces weren’t exactly a hit with oblivious builders who mistook them for unwanted graffiti. Once found, the workers then did what they were paid to do and applied fresh coats of paint over the villa walls where the stencils were, effectively erasing millions of dollars of public art. “They thought a rogue visitor had debased the walls, and promptly painted over the ones on the outside of the building," the hotel source said.

The hotel had a company come in to survey the “damage” to the artwork to see if they could be recovered. The estimated cost of stripping the layers of paint? £120,000 (or roughly $150,000), but the art might not survive to be restored.

[h/t The Daily Mail]

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