Jet washed, painted and invaded by thieves, Banksy’s snorting copper artwork in London Shoreditch had thought lost forever. So how did you have the £1m piece brought into public view – and it is still “a Banksy” even after so much restoration?
A uniformed police officer on his hands and knees.
But far from forensically fishing for clues at a crime scene, this particular officer of the law is the involvement in a whole other line of inquiry.
The wall painting, stencils, edited on an East-End toilet block under the cover of darkness in the years of 2005 and a COP shows apparently sniffing cocaine, gained instant intrigue and notoriety.
After the view is hidden for a decade, it is now back on the beat in its original location after a careful restoration.
His story is worthy of the best crime caper with the local authorities, vandals and would-be thieves all the prime candidates, in an identity parade.
Hackney Council, it is a less captivating attraction, in part, cleaned it out, before whitewashing the curtain street wall.
Undeterred, unscrupulous types, sharp, cash is trying to in on the rapidly rising value of Banksy’s works, to shave off the face of the bricks with an angle grinder.
Each had been numbered – presumably to facilitate the process of putting the structure back together.
The wall was finally, hidden behind plywood.
Snorting copper, like so much in the “here today, gone tomorrow” world of street art, was, well gone one to two business people tipped to its existence came to her rescue.
“We knew – or we thought we knew – the Banksy was here,” says real estate developer Jonathan Ellis, who along with David Kyte purchased the site and transformed it into a mixture of residential and commercial units.
“Hackney Council is a public toilet there. This is where the Banksy was painted on the side of a little toilet block.
“We have spoken, Hackney, to try to find out what exactly happened. We found it very difficult to find, no one in the Council, who would concede to the painting.
“It was probably three or four feet high with weeds and trash, and God knows what else, when we get the keys.
“I think it would be a crime, if we’d only knocked it over with the rest of the bits and pieces you have on the Website and place it on a skip.”
After over a decade of being hidden away, invest time and money into a restoration was attempted, the “a leap of faith,” says Kyte.
“You thought you would be able to bring it back to life, but there was no guarantee they could or that what was underneath, of interest or value,” he told the BBC’s Inside Out program.
Also, the removal of the 2.5 meters long (8ft) extend from the site proved to be not very easy.
When he was lifted by a crane on a vehicle, the chassis was almost destroyed by the two-ton weight.
The waiver on your first attempt, it would be another week or so until alternative transport has been arranged and it could be taken 300 miles (480 km) to Carlisle, Cumbria.
“We have made it back in one piece eventually,” laughs Chris Bull, the technical Director of the Fine Art restoration company – a company more familiar with Picasso and easel-painting.
“All sorts of things it had happened. There were several attempts to destroy or steal it.”
A team of six experts worked tirelessly, first to compile images of the undamaged piece and to work out what was where.
“We have a lot of background research, we have had a lot of photos,” he recalls.
“So much energy in figuring out the brick had which piece of work of art, as if we were back with the solvent to strip the many layers of white paint, we knew what color we were looking down.
“It is very complicated, very sensitive. Solvent cut through the paint very quickly, so you need to use a neutraliser to arrest it quickly.
“It is always a risk and we would have destroyed it. The conservationists are very well trained, but there is always the risk that something can go wrong.”
With the work and the section of the wall was now in a steel frame, the piece is estimated to be completed on £1.25 m.
Determined, they say, not to sell it for a quick buck, Ellis, and Kyte put it on public display, painted on Thursday at the site where it was first – although this time, it is within the newly designed building and protected behind glass, with the added security of CCTV cameras, and alarms.
“In order to restore them back to a hidden gem,” Ellis claimed.
“We had a couple of options. We thought, ‘Let’s put it back and allow the public to enjoy it’.
“If it is to be painted, curated properly and the walls are, well, it’s great for a city for street art”.
Who Banksy is?
Now probably the most well-known graffiti artist in the world, its subversive and satirical work created with the use of stencils began to appear in his home city of Bristol in the 1990s
Moving to London around the turn of the Millennium, his public recognition has increased noticeably, as his works (like those that came with Gangsta rat), to the attention of the national media
He has add never revealed his identity, with the mystique only seems to the intrigue and value of its pieces
In an auction in 2008, a work called Keep It Spotless was sold for $1.8 m (£1.4 m)
A second version was Snorting painted copper on the London Leake Street, but was destroyed
But with so a lot of Stripping back and touch have been carried out, The copper as a Banksy?
“This is really an interesting question,” says restorer Bull. “What has been uncovered is, in essence, the Banksy that was it. The original ethos is still there.
To get “[cut by white color, to Banksy ‘ s] is very difficult. It will never be possible to say, what is the Council of the white paint is, and what is a Banksy, but it looks the same as it was when Banksy did it.”
“If you step back and look at it, it’s the Banksy.”
Ed Bartlett, the author of Lonely Planet’s Street-Art book, right.
“Is it a Banksy, when it was restored? Yes, of course.
“It’s not just about what you see in terms of the physical layers of color, it’s about the idea – and the idea is as relevant in 100 or 1,000 years, as it was when it was conceived and painted.
“It’s about the mental idea and that’s where Banksy is different. His way of doing things, over and over for many artists.”
The local authority has come to appreciate the round, their cultural value.
“I think it’s really important that we recognize, Hackney history, radical street art,” says the face of the mayor of Philip Glanville.
“Sometimes the Council is not the best custodian. I think we have really good policies in place now, we are actually clear that we support street art, and we support people that your representation out there on the road.
“We’re not going to paint, again.”
You can see more on Inside Out ” on BBC One in the North West and North East & Cumbria on 9. October at 19:30.