Banksy graffiti gets vandalized in Sundance town

(AP) - Two Utah paintings by the mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy were the targets of vandalism on New Year's Eve, possibly ruining one of the works in the town that hosts the Sundance Film Festival.

Brown spray paint Thursday covered a Park City mural that depicted a young boy with a pink halo and angel wings kneeling to pray behind a can of pink paint. The clear protective covering over the image had been shattered.

The second piece, of a cameraman stooped to shoot video footage of a flower, was not defaced, but the covering had been cracked.

The murals have become local points of pride since they appeared three years ago, and Park City police said they don't have a motive for the crime.

Surveillance footage captured a lone white male suspect tampering with the art about 2 a.m. Tuesday, and authorities expect to release images of the man Friday to aid their search, according to police Sgt. Jay Randall.

It's not clear whether the damaged mural can be restored, or how much the work was worth.

"Because of the fact that they weren't sanctioned, it could come down to a judge to determine the value of each of these," Randall said.

The unauthorized art first appeared in 2010, around the time Banksy was in Park City for the Sundance debut of his documentary, "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

The works initially prompted outrage by people who considered them unwelcome graffiti, according to Alison Butz, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance. But the city has come to embrace the murals. The alliance features the work prominently on its website, and the images are among the most-photographed sites in town, Randall said.

The elusive Banksy, who refuses to reveal his full identity, is known for silhouetted figures and spray-painted messages that show up in unexpected places.

His works have been sold at auction for as much as $1.1 million apiece.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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