Latest Banksy artwork covered up by developers
Banksy has created a new artwork criticising the tactics used in The Jungle refugee camp in Calais - but it was covered up with wood shortly after developers discovered it.
The latest mural was drawn opposite the French Embassy in Knightsbridge, west London, and depicts the young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears streaming from her eyes as a can of CS gas lies beneath her.
The artwork includes an interactive QR code which, when scanned, links to a video of teargas and rubber bullets allegedly used in a police raid on the camp on January 5.
It is the latest in a number of works painted by the elusive graffiti artist criticising Europe's handling of the refugee crisis and conditions in the Calais camp.
Banksy fans flocked to take selfies next to the mural, believed to have been drawn on to the side of the disused complex which is being turned into luxury flats and shops, this weekend.
But within hours of cameras being set up outside on Monday morning, the developers decided to cover the work up with two large pieces of plywood.
Several builders armed with electric drills attached the large wooden boards to the wall, entirely covering the mural.
It followed farcical scenes, which happened earlier in the day, when building staff decided to remove the painting - only to quickly change their mind.
They initially took a crowbar to the side of the wooden board which the work was painted on and tried to hack it off, but soon aborted the attempt amid fears the valuable artwork might be damaged.
They then covered the work with wood only to take it off seconds later following what appeared to be a change of mind from site bosses. Around an hour later, builders again covered the mural with wood - this time apparently for good.
Mike Sadler, director of Cheval Property Management Limited, said: "Cheval Property Management Limited will be preserving the mural and is currently discussing future plans for the artwork."
The decision to cover the art up came after a gang of men tried to prise it off the wall and steal it on Sunday night.
Scotland Yard said it sent officers to investigate the attempted theft at 8.45pm on Sunday night, but the men had fled the scene.
Fans of Banksy said the mural raised important concerns about the treatment of refugees at the camp and should be kept so the public can see it.
Luis Gomez, 31, said: "I think it is a symbol of what is happening now in Calais, and it is a message for all of us to be more conscious of what's happening.
"And opposite the French Embassy, it sends a strong message. I think it should stay here for the public to see it."
Nick Papavassiliou, 42, a charity worker living in London, said: "Every time Banksy puts up a picture it is quickly sold by some owner for a 'charity', so as soon as I saw it last night I thought I'd better come down here quickly before it gets removed.
"It is possible it will raise awareness of conditions in the camp - I hope so. I suppose artworks like this are there to send a message."
Asked about his views on the refugee crisis, he said: "Personally, I think we should do a little bit more than what we are doing - we are all humans after all."
Banksy has previously painted an artwork in The Jungle depicting Apple founder Steve Jobs, the son of a Syrian immigrant, carrying an early Apple computer and his belongings in a sack.