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Banksy 'Spy Booth' artwork at centre of preservation campaign defaced by vandal

A view of the Banksy mural which targets the issue of Government surveillance with silver and red paint sprayed over it, Cheltenham, England, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. A mural by street artist Banksy that sparked a local preservation campaign has been defaced.

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A view of the Banksy mural which targets the issue of Government surveillance with silver and red paint sprayed over it, Cheltenham, England, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. A mural by street artist Banksy that sparked a local preservation campaign has been defaced. "Spy Booth" shows three agents in trench coats and trilby hats eavesdropping on a phone booth. It appeared in April on a wall in Cheltenham, western England, home of spy agency GCHQ. A local group formed to save the work after the building's owner attempted to have it removed and sold. Campaigner Angela De Souza said a local businessman had agreed to buy and preserve the work. But on Friday it was covered in scrawled graffiti letters. De Souza said conservators were in “a race against time” to save it. Banksy works have fetched as much as $1.8 million at auction, and several of his outdoor pieces have recently been stripped from walls and sold. (AP Photo/Claire Hayhurst/PA Wire) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

LONDON - A mural by street artist Banksy that sparked a local preservation campaign has been defaced.

"Spy Booth" shows three agents in trench coats and trilby hats eavesdropping on a phone booth. It appeared in April on a wall in Cheltenham, western England, home of spy agency GCHQ.

A local group was formed to save the work after the building's owner attempted to have it removed and sold.

Local businessman Hekmat Kaveh had agreed to buy and preserve the mural, but on Friday it was covered in scrawled graffiti letters. Kaveh said he hoped the work, which was treated with anti-graffiti paint, could be restored.

Banksy works have fetched as much as $1.8 million at auction, and several of his outdoor pieces have recently been stripped from walls and sold.

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