Even security guards and protective sheeting couldn't protect the new Banksy mural from being defaced.
That didn't take long.
Within hours of being discovered on a Birmingham street in Great Britain, the newest mural by the elusive artist Banksy was twice defaced. Both times, the taggers struck in front of witnesses.
The Christmas mural went up Monday and features two sky-bound reindeer pulling a street bench like a sleigh, and was intended to highlight the plight of homeless people, the artist said on his Instagram account.
Residents quickly turned out to take selfies and record the street artist's latest mural.
Hours later, a young man in a hoodie showed up and asked, "Shall I tag it?" before spray-painting red noses on Santa's delivery animals, according to local reports. Onlookers pleaded with the tagger not to do it, but he persisted.
"He was asking the crowds whether he should do it and people were begging him saying 'please don't do it, please don't do it,'" Steve Lovell, marketing manager at the Jewelry Quarter BID, told Metro. "We were shocked and disgusted and one of our executives tried to clean it off, but to no avail."
The act prompted workmen and security guards to appear, and plastic sheeting was placed over the art work. Metal barriers were also placed in front of the mural to keep onlookers at bay.
The latter proved unhelpful, when just hours later, another man arrived, bypassed a guard, and spray-painted the letters "OUSL" on the plastic covering.
That attack was caught on video. A guard can be seen pushing the man away from the mural.
Banksy's works have often been defaced or tagged with spray paint and the mysterious artist has said that is all just part of street art.
In 2007, Banksy's famous depiction of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson holding bananas instead of guns as their characters from "Pulp Fiction" was painted over in red by London Transport workers as part of a graffiti removal effort. The art work had been valued at more than $395,000.
This summer, a mural showing the Flag of Europe being chiseled by workman — a reference to the British controversy over Brexit — was whitewashed and covered by scaffolding at a building scheduled for demolition.