Banksy Graffiti is Ripped Down in LA and Results in Protests, Altercation

Banksy graffiti removed

Renowned grafitti artist Banksy's latest work in Los Angeles was removed yesterday, almost as quickly as it was installed sometime earlier this week – and fans protested angrily.

As the billboard advertisement and the Banksy art were simultaneously removed, an altercation erupted between the CBS Outdoor crew who were taking it down and employees from Norm's 76, the gas station and car wash below. At that point, a crowd protesting the destruction of the piece had congregated and police were called to the scene.

TMZ reported last night that employees from the gas station had even offered to buy the large piece for $10,000, but were refused. The graffiti was instead crumpled, folded up, and taken off the premises.

The removal of the installation on Sunset Boulevard at North Laurel Ave. comes amid strong Oscar buzz for the British street artist, who generated plenty of attention and a new set of fans with his 2010 documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

The piece in question featured a bizarro Mickey Mouse character hacked on top of a sexy advertisement for The Light Group, a Las Vegas management company. It was located across the street from the Director's Guild of America headquarters, leading some to wonder if the graffiti was a gesture intended for his fellow Academy Award nominees.

A spokesman for The Light Group tells a local television station that CBS outdoor advertising took down the poster without asking.

"We're extremely [expletive]. It's our billboard that got tagged, it's not their billboard. CBS clearly has ZERO appreciation for art," says a spokesman from the company. "We were flattered Banksy tagged on our ad – it was epic," he adds.

In the end, CBS returned the poster to The Light Group. The company has not yet said whether it would put the graffiti art back on public display.

Banksy work has popped up in other Los Angeles locations recently, and fans had been stopping by Norm's 76 on Tuesday and Wednesday after it became clear that the graffiti was his. It's been estimated that the "Livin' the Dream" billboard piece would have been worth six figures, had it not been damaged during the hasty removal.

Additional reporting by Libby Zay.

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