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'Missing' Banksy mural boarded over to keep vandals away

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A Banksy mural on the wall of a resort in Torquay, England, has been covered — and not whitewashed as residents had feared.

Owners of the Grosvenor, which recently had its exterior repainted, said they hid the infamous street artist's 8-foot stencil of a boy drawing a robot to protect the piece from futher vandalism.

"It has been boarded over and they have painted over the cover," the resort's general manager Rebecca Snowball told the Daily Mail. "It has been kept safely behind."

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The piece, thought to be worth about $775,000, has become a tourist attraction for the seaside city since it was created in 2010. It was later damaged when vandals threw paint thinner on the piece.

Other works by Banksy have recently gone missing from London neighborhoods.

In February, building owners stripped "Slave Labour," which depicts a boy stitching Union flags, from a Poundland discount shop. Four months later, the piece sold at a private auction for $1.1 million, despite protests from residents and the art world.

Banksy's "No Ball Games" in July was removed from a north London shop wall and resurfaced on the website of the Sincura Group, the London-based concierge service that managed the sale of "Slave Labour."

"No Ball Games" will likely go on sale some time next year, with proceeds benefiting a London organization that works with disabled children, according to Sincura.

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jamie.wetherbe@latimes.com

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