Two works by Banksy were defaced in New Orleans over the weekend. According to a report by the New York Post, the artist’s murals titled The Gray Ghost and Umbrella Girl were tagged with other graffiti bearing the words “Team Robbo” and “King Robbo,” respectively.
The red graffitied words atop the murals may refer to the late British street artist King Robbo, who had a publicized rivalry with Banksy. Their feud stemmed from a 2009 incident in which Banksy reportedly painted over one of King Robbo’s tags in London from 1985. (King Robbo died in 2014.)
The murals tagged in New Orleans have been in place since 2008. The Gray Ghost, which depicts a man covering flowers with gray paint, has been on view on the side of a building located at the city’s Clio and Carondelet Streets. And Umbrella Girl, which shows a young girl reaching her arm out from the cover of her umbrella and is believed to reference Hurricane Katrina, can be found on Rampart Street.
Carlos Fundora, a New Orleans–based street art tour guide who reportedly removed most of the red graffiti from Umbrella Girl after it was tagged, told the Post, “There are people out there who just don’t like Banksy, and others who see destroying his work as a way of making a name for themselves, but preserving this mural isn’t even about Banksy for me. The people of New Orleans have lost a lot this year because of the pandemic, and this public art piece is a source of comfort and joy for many of them.”
Banksy has been a recurring subject of headlines this year. Most recently, the street artist created a new work depicting a sneezing woman on the side of a house in Bristol, England.