HIS art now fetches millions, but another of Melbourne's dwindling stock of public works by street artist Banksy was drilled into oblivion this afternoon by unsuspecting construction workers in Prahran.
The shop on the corner of Izett and Greville Streets was being converted into a cafe as the image of a parachuting rat dangled in harm's way.
Another Banksy bites the dust
Angry art lovers want councils to register notable street art after the destruction of another Banksy artwork.
"It's like they used it as a bullseye", said Jacqui Vidal, who runs a studio across the road. "What they've done is punch a hole right through the brick, which was an image of a parachuting rat. And they've put two pipes right through."
However, Ms Vidal said the unwitting builder was not to blame.
"I ran across the road and I was like 'do you know what you just did?' And he had no clue. Even when I told him that it was a Banksy he didn't know what a Banksy was."
Banksy is a pseudonym for the British graffiti artist whose artwork regularly sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Local street art advocate Fletcher Andersen blamed the council for the loss of one of the last Banksy images in Melbourne and damage to the "iconic" mural on the same wall, featuring other local artists.
"Stonnington doesn't have a register of any kind. It doesn't even have a policy on legal street art like Melbourne City Council does," he said. "They are just 'it's up on the wall, we'll get rid of it if we need to.'"
The City of Stonnington said enquiries should be directed to the building owner.
"The works were undertaken on a privately owned building and were privately organised. Council has no official register of street art," Stonnington CEO Warren Roberts said.
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Mr Andersen said street art was key to battling the effects of gentrification in the area, which he said had local shop owners worried.
"All the culture has moved up to Fitzroy and Brunswick," he said. "Everybody has left the area and it's just a big place to get pissed."
Mr Andersen was coy about naming the location of other Banksy works for fear of vandalism, but he said they were getting rarer.
"Unless he comes back at some stage I don't think Melbourne will have too many more Banksys," he said.