Stolen 'Banksy' may be fake
Melbourne - Australian experts on Friday cast doubt over claims that graffiti stolen from outside an underwear tycoon's Melbourne house was by secretive British artist Banksy.
Police launched an investigation after the "valuable" picture of a sunglasses-wearing rat carrying bolt cutters, spray-painted using a stencil in the Banksy style, was stolen between late April and early May.
But gallery owner and street art expert Andy Mac said he doubted the work, which appeared on underwear designer Mitch Dowd's electricity meter box about 18 months ago, was a genuine Banksy.
"To my knowledge, Banksy has not been back in (Australia) since 2002 or 2003. I would be very surprised that this stolen work is in fact a Banksy," Mac told The Age newspaper.
Self-styled Banksy aficionado Ryan Brett said the piece looked to be merely a poor copy, with "sloppy artwork" that was clearly the work of an amateur.
"Just look at the detail Banksy uses with all of his work. He does a much better job than this muppet," said Brett.
The theft comes just weeks after Melbourne street cleaners unwittingly painted over a Banksy stencil of a parachuting rat, prompting an apology from local authorities.
Last week, a London pub claimed to have captured Banksy, whose true identity remains unknown, on CCTV as a hooded artist daubed a picture of a girl confronting a lion in its beer garden.