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A Banksy artwork lost for a decade has been rediscovered

‘Snorting Copper’ was vandalised, spray-jetted, painted over and boarded up – now it’s been found again in east London

A Banksy piece that first appeared on the wall of public toilets in Shoreditch, east London has been rediscovered over a decade later. The painting, known as the “Snorting Copper” was vandalised, spray-jetted by local council, boarded up and painted over.

The artwork by the anonymous artist depicts a police officer down on his hands and knees, doing a line of coke. It was uncovered by Jonathan Ellis and David Kyte, who found it on a disused site they had bought. They had bought the plot to convert into flats and offices, but went investigating after locals had informed them of the mysterious Banksy piece. Locals confirmed Hackney council had spray-jetted the piece years before, before someone else painted it white. A decade went and its location had been forgotten. Though the piece has been valued at £1.25 million, they intend to restore and return it to its original home, opening the space for public viewing in October this year.

The entire wall has been cut out and sent to a restoring studio in Carlisle, Cumbria. As the Guardian reports, there are apparently two versions of the “Snorting Copper”, but this recently discovered piece may be the only surviving one. Its authenticity has been verified because of the location it was found and references from two authorised books on the Bristol enigma. As reported, the layers of paint and boards covering the piece helped to preserve it.

“It’s an amazing piece,” developer Ellis told the Guardian. “We’ve had offers to sell it. But we want to put it back. We think that’s the right thing to do for the public to enjoy it. I’m proud to be able to do something like that.”

Ellis confirmed the art would need security: they intent to bolt it to concrete and protect it with reinforced glass, alarms and CCTV.

Earlier this year, Banksy’s “Girl with Balloon” was voted the UK’s favourite piece of art. His 2015 amusement park and art show Dismaland was hugely popular and attracted thousands of visitors.

Back in 2014, a Banksy piece that showed pigeons with anti-immigration banners in Clacton-on-Sea was removed by the local council after complaints that it was racist.

The artist, famed for on-the-nose political graffiti, remains anonymous, despite years of speculation. Rumours that it was Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja swirled again after Goldie apparently let slip the name ‘Robert’ when speaking of the artist on a podcast. Across the years, there’s been full-scale investigations, and accusations that he is in fact a she in the bid to unmask the elusive Banksy.