A crowd gathers to view Banksy's latest work in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
British graffiti artist Banksy has been told to stop painting murals in New York. While delighting lovers of street art by painting a new work in a surprise location in the city every day this month, the elusive artist has incurred the wrath of mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Mr Bloomberg said graffiti ''does ruin people's property'' and was ''a sign of decay and lost control''.
''Nobody's a bigger supporter of the arts than I am,'' the mayor, who donates millions of dollars each year to the city's artistic institutions, said. ''I just think there are some places for art and some places where - no art.
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''You running up to somebody's property or public property and defacing it is not my definition of art. Or it may be art, but it should not be permitted. And I think that's exactly what the law says.''
Any Banksy work discovered on city property would be removed, he said. However, he declined to be drawn on whether the police should go after the artist.
This week, the New York Post claimed police were pursuing Banksy to put a stop to the graffiti.
Amid denials from police that he was a priority, Banksy said in a message on his website: ''I don't read what I believe in the papers,'' and he continued his ''residency on the streets of New York''.
During his project, entitled ''Better Out Than In'', Banksy has left new works on walls and doors. He posts a photograph and an approximate location on his website.
On day 13, he set up an unmarked stall in Central Park and sold signed small canvases, which would typically fetch tens of thousands, for just $60 each.
In Brooklyn, a fight broke out when a hooded man began to spray over one Banksy painting, of two geishas crossing a bridge. Other works have been defaced by rivals, while one was covered with a cardboard box by youngsters, who then charged passers-by $5 to view it.