15/02/2020 12:22 GMT | Updated 17/02/2020 15:33 GMT

Banksy Valentine's-Inspired Artwork Destroyed By Vandals With Explicit Graffiti

The piece was defaced overnight.

Matt Hutson
Banksy Valentine's artwork full

A new piece of street art by elusive artist Banksy has been vandalised in Bristol 24 hours after the artist claimed it. 

The mural, in Marsh Lane, features a stencilled image of a girl firing a slingshot of red flowers and leaves.

Vandals splashed explicit graffiti spelling out ‘w****rs’ in huge pink letters across the artwork.

One local resident who spotted the vandalism said: “It’s a real shame, but it was always going to happen unfortunately.”

A protective screen covering the artwork was torn down on Friday.

Residents in the Barton Hill area of the city awoke on Thursday to find the striking piece on the side of a building.

Banksy confirmed the piece by posting two images of it on his official Instagram account and website in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.

The artwork appeared on a rented home owned by Edwin Simons, who celebrated his 67th birthday on Thursday.

His daughter, Kelly Woodruff, 37, found out about it after being tagged in a Facebook post.

“We’ve been down here all day and it’s just been a complete buzz of excitement,” she told the PA news agency.

“There’s so many people coming and enjoying it, taking pictures, it’s fantastic.

“There’s been a lot of debate if it is a Banksy or not. Most people I’ve spoken to think it 100% is, and they’re naming it the Valentine’s Banksy.

“It’s incredible and beautiful.”

The family are looking to cover up the artwork with glass to preserve it.

“My slight worry is, we’ve got this Storm Dennis coming on the weekend, so I really want to try and protect the roses,” she added.

News of the Banksy first emerged on Twitter, with Bristol Somali Community Association writing: “Today in Barton Hill, we woke up with this remarkable mural art painted on one of the houses of the area.

“We hope it’s Banksy’s work. Come and have a look yourself. Whoever painted, it’s worth admiring their creativity. Thank you.”

One local resident, James Bullock, saw scaffolding on the wall at about 6.20am on Thursday.

He walked past it later with his girlfriend and was stunned to see the artwork had appeared.