Street art superstar Banksy has been noted by lesser-known graffiti artists. Two of the few Banksy figurines in New Orleans were ruined over the Christmas weekend, vandals nearly punched holes in the fences of both, and painted “Team Robbo” on one and “King Robbo” on the other in red.
According to the New York Post, Banksy graffiti artist’s murals titled “Gray Ghost” and “Girl with Umbrella” were tagged with other graffiti with the words “Team Robbo” and “King Robbo” respectively.
The red lettering on the Banksy murals may refer to the late British street artist King Robbo, who had a publicized rivalry with Banksy. Their animosity stemmed from a 2009 incident in which Banksy reportedly painted over one of King Robbo’s labels in London in 1985.
The New Orleans murals have been in place since 2008. A gray ghost depicting a man covering flowers with gray paint was seen from the side of a building located on the city streets of Clio and Carondelet. And “Girl with an Umbrella,” which shows a young girl sticking her hand out from under the cover of an umbrella and is believed to be a reference to Hurricane Katrina, can be found on Rampart Street.
Carlos Fundora is a New Orleans street art guide. He removed most of the red graffiti from Umbrella Girl after it was tagged. He told the Post that there are people who just don’t like Banksy and others who see the destruction of his work as a way to make a name for themselves. But keeping this mural for him isn’t even about Banksy. People in New Orlean have lost a lot this year to the pandemic, and this work of art is a source of comfort and joy to many of them.
According to NOLA, there have been several attempts to spoil Umbrella Girl since 2008, and just a few weeks ago someone painted Cantrel paint on a protective plastic backing in red paint. In 2014, an art thief failed to saw through a mural on a wall after locals noticed a noisy attempt and contacted authorities.
The mural “Girl with an Umbrella” on N. Rampart Street in 1434, believed to symbolize the failure of the dam system to protect New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. It was the most heavily tagged of the two Banksy murals, although fans were quick to try to protect her from further damage.
Restaurateur Greg Surrey is the owner of the building on Rue Clio et Carondelet. He said he gave Banksy permission to paint the mural known as “The Gray Ghost” in 2008. Surrey told NOLA.com that it plans to remove the tag and replace the plastic barrier, adding that it had previously considered paying to remove the painting (a process that he estimates would cost at least $ 20,000) so that he could auction it off, but for now, decided not to.
Surrey said he would just sell Banksy murals and leave the building. Gray Ghost, one of about 15 stencils that Banksy graffiti artist placed in New Orleans in August 2008, depicts – in typical Banksy meta-fashion – a man erasing sunflower graffiti.
NOLA.com recalls that other Banksy murals from that period were quickly erased, and building owners, graffiti, and markers painted over and removed almost immediately. The mural on the wall of Surrey lasted longer thanks to the plastic barrier he installed. That allowed it to become a pilgrimage site for Banksy fans.