The elusive British street artist Banksy has acknowledged for the first time that he is behind a street mural depicting secret agents eavesdropping on a public telephone booth located not far from Britain's intelligence agency headquarters.
In a rare exchange with the public on his website, the Bristol-born artist was asked: "Did you paint the spies in Cheltenham?", to which he responded simply: "Yes".
The mural, showing three men wearing trench coats and sunglasses and holding various listening devices, appeared on a wall behind the phone booth on Hewlett Road in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in April this year.
The mural is about five kilometres from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the home of the British Government's spying network, leading some to believe Banksy was taking a swipe at the Government's intelligence-gathering methods.
Soon after the mural appeared in April, vandals daubed white paint over the faces of the spies, however drinkers at a nearby pub raced to save the artwork. Before the paint dried they were able to wash it off to preserve the mural, according to the BBC.
Asked in this week's brief online question-and-answer session to name the worst thing about street art, Banksy responded: "Having to make your mistakes in public". He offered the same response when asked what was the best thing about street art.
The auction house Sotheby's is presently hosting an "unauthorised retrospective" of Banksy's works in London, organised by his former agent Steve Lazarides.
In response to a question on his website about the Sotheby's exhibition, Banksy said: “As a kid I always dreamed of growing up to be a character of Robin Hood. I never realised I’d end up playing one of the gold coins.”