A Banksy mural, on the side of a former prison which once housed Oscar Wilde, has been defaced with a rival’s name.
The artwork, entitled “Creative Escape”, depicts an inmate escaping by using a knotted spool of paper from a typewriter.
However, pictures emerged on Tuesday showing the mural had been defaced with red paint covering the typewriter and the phrase “Team Robbo” below.
This is believed to be a reference to street artist King Robbo, who Banksy was in a long-term feud with before his death in 2014.
Allegedly, the rivalry began back in 2009, when Banksy defaced one of King Robbo’s tags on Regent’s Canal in Camden.
Save Reading Gaol, a campaign to convert the former prison into an arts and culture hub, tweeted on Tuesday: “A sad morning as we learn that the Banksy mural on the side of Reading Gaol has been deliberately damaged with red paint.
“Awful news to wake up to and to realise that the failure to protect something precious to the town has left it vulnerable to destruction.”
Banksy confirmed the painting was his work in footage told in the parody of an instructional art video.
The video, which is set to archive commentary from an episode of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, shows Banksy picking up a ladder and spray paint cans in the dark.
Then Banksy places a stencil on the wall of Reading Prison, before spraying it with red paint.
A spokesperson for Reading Borough Council, had said they were “thrilled” that Banksy appeared to be supporting the “council’s desire to transform the vacant Reading Gaol into a beacon of arts, heritage and culture”.
But after the latest incident, council leader Jason Brock said: “This is obviously hugely disappointing following the initial excitement in Reading recently when Banksy’s artwork appeared.
“How anyone can somehow think this is acceptable is completely beyond me, even if this is an extension of a historic feud, as is being suggested. There is understandable anger across the town today.”
The renowned prison once housed playwright Oscar Wilde, as he served a two year sentence for gross indecency in 1895.
While the site was closed in 2013, its future is up for debate.
Reading Borough Council was due to submit its bid to the Ministry of Justice by Monday.
There are fears that if the bid is not successful, the grade-II listed building will be taken over by property developers.
High profile celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Judy Dench and Kate Winslet, have rallied support for the campaign of the prison being converted into an arts hub.
(c) Sky News 2021: Banksy mural on side of former prison defaced with rival’s name