A Banksy mural showing a workman chiselling away a star in the European Union flag has mysteriously disappeared from the side of a building in Dover.
The mural, worth an estimated £1 million ($1.8 million) has adorned an abandoned building in Dover for the past two years, symbolising Britain’s controversial exit from the EU.
The mural has become a landmark in the ferry port that connects the UK with France and many tourists travel to see the artists work.
Over the weekend a four-tier scaffolding was erected beside the famous mural and on Sunday locals reported that it had vanished.
However, it is not clear if the mural has been permanently removed or simply been protected to avoid further damage.
Much like Brexit, locals residents have now been speculating on the mural’s fate, with many labelling its departure a “tragedy”.
“Why??? I can’t understand why they’ve whitewashed this masterpiece,” Lisa Green-Jones, a resident of Dover, said on Facebook.
“It’s an absolute tragedy. I had family over from Ireland recently and when we got to town the first thing they said was ‘Can we go see the Banksy?'”
Another resident, Peter Garstin tweeted: “On behalf of the people of Dover, I would like to deplore the obliteration of our Banksy. Cultural vandalism of the highest order.”
The mystery has been spurred on by the fact that in 2017, the owners of the building, the Godden family, said they were “exploring options for the retention, removal or sale” of the artwork.
But not everyone was sad to see it go.
“I liked the Banksy but at the end of the day it was painted on a building that was down for being demolished,” tweeted resident Tracey Smith.
“You can’t keep a building just cause it’s suddenly got a work of art on it, it is still an eye saw (sic). The sooner that corner is redeveloped the better.”
Banksy has never revealed his full identity.
He began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol before becoming one of the world’s best-known artists, with pieces fetching large sums.
In October, history was made when one of his works, Girl With Balloon, self-destructed moments after being sold for £1.04 million ($1.8 million).
The sum paid by an unnamed collector was three times the spray-painted artwork’s pre-sale estimate and equalled a record price for a Banksy.
The image was originally stencilled on a wall in east London.
The artist later posted a video on his Instagram showing how he made the shredder, which was designed to destroy the whole piece.
In Australia, three stencils by Banksy in a Melbourne laneway were destroyed in 2016 to make way for a new door.
The artworks, painted on a wall in AC/DC Lane, were smashed and the rubble was thrown into a skip.