British artist Banksy (no-one knows what his real name is but it may be Robert Banks) from Bristol specialises is painting on walls and the sides of buildings. Most of us call it grafitti, but his work is usually more artistic than ordinary grafitti.

GALLERY: Swept under the carpet ... Red faces as another Banksy mural bites the dust

13th May 2007

British grafitti artist Banksy holds up his self-portrait

When renowned graffiti artist Banksy created one of his trademark pieces on the wall of the cutting-edge White Cube art gallery he might have expected it to be in safe hands.

But the gallery has been left embarrassed after the £200,000 work was destroyed.

The mural, called Sweep It Under The Carpet, showed a maid looking as if she was lifting up a part of the wall like a curtain to sweep away some dust.

Down the dustpan: The work by graffiti artist Banksy was obliterated. It was painted on a wall and looks like a maid lifting up a curtain to sweep under it

It adorned the outside of the gallery in Hoxton, East London, for two months before vanishing.

Although White Cube employees insist they have no idea who painted over the mural, neighbouring businesses say they believe gallery staff were responsible.

Dave Ma, the manager of Shish restaurant, which is directly opposite the wall, saw someone he believes was a White Cube staff member painting over the work.

He said: "The gallery's policy is to paint over any graffiti the following day. When the Banksy work appeared, staff at the Cube asked their boss if they could bend the rules and leave it.

"He said they could leave it for a month but ordered them to cover over it once the month was up.

"It's a real shame. People in the area thought it was a great piece of art. They certainly didn't expect it to be destroyed."

A White Cube spokeswoman said: "Contractors were hired to paint the wall but were told not to paint over the Banksy.

"It wasn't removed by us or our contractors. It was painted over by a third party but we don't know who."

A friend of the artist said: "The fact that it was painted over is an embarrassment. It's a ridiculous thing for the gallery to do."

Banksy, who likes to remain anonymous, uses stencils to spray his images. His work of two policemen kissing in Brighton was blacked out in January.

And contractors believed to be from Transport for London painted over another of his pieces in the capital.

It showed Pulp Fiction stars John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson holding bananas instead of guns.


Banksy's French Maid mural (worth £200,000) was sprayed over deliberately
© London Media

The 'sprayed-over' French Maid mural
© London Media

The Banksy work on Cato Street was vandalised with paint when it was up for sale

Art lovers were expected to pay up to £150,000 for this mural before it was vandalised

Naked Man image by Banksy, in his home city of Bristol (external - login to view), England (external - login to view). Following popular support, the City Council have decided it will be allowed to remain.

A stencil of Charles Manson (external - login to view) in a prison suit, hitchhiking to anywhere, Archway (external - login to view), London (external - login to view)

Banksy on Pulp Fiction (external - login to view). Image since removed by graffiti cleanup crews.

An example of Banksy's artwork on the Palestinian side of the Israeli West Bank barrier (external - login to view).

"Anarchist Rat"