Bike disappearance mars Banksy artwork in Nottingham

By Mattha Busby

A bicycle with a missing wheel accompanying a Banksy mural in Nottingham has vanished, prompting sadness and frustration in the city.

The artwork depicts a girl appearing to hula hoop with a tyre from the bike, which was chained to a nearby pole outside a beauty salon.

Speculation grew after it sprang up on the corner of Rothesay Avenue in the Lenton district on 13 October, until the enigmatic graffiti artist confirmed he was its creator – leading sightseers to queue to visit it.

However, the bicycle appears to have been stolen over the weekend. Primary school teacher Tracy Jayne, from Nottingham, noticed it had gone when she went to see it on Sunday morning.

“Everyone’s talking about it, but when we arrived I was like: ‘Oh my God, the bike’s gone,’” she told the Guardian.

Tracy Jayne: ‘It’s a shame if someone has taken it and chosen to be that disrespectful, not just to Banksy himself but to the whole of Nottingham.’
Tracy Jayne: ‘It’s a shame if someone has taken it and chosen to be that disrespectful, not just to Banksy himself but to the whole of Nottingham.’ Photograph: Tracy Jayne

Her late husband worked for bicycle maker Raleigh, one of the largest companies in Nottingham until it closed in 2002 – meaning she had an emotional connection to the work, which was near the old factory.

“It’s a shame if someone has taken it and chosen to be that disrespectful, not just to Banksy himself but to the whole of Nottingham,” she added.

The council had protected the mural with clear plastic sheeting, but it was also targeted with spray paint at least twice.

“It’s really saddening there are people like that who want to destroy his art, what are they going to achieve from it?” Jayne said. “I’m hoping the bike will be recovered. Sometimes things magically reappear.”

Maisie Garbin, a student at the University of Nottingham, told Nottinghamshire Live: “It was done for community spirit so for someone to do that it is really sad.”

Another nearby resident, Louise Harrison, said: “I feel like Banksy has given us a gift when we were at a low with increasing infection rates … the missing bike does take away from it.”

Surinder Kaur, who runs a nearby beauty salon, said the bike had appeared at the same time as the mural.

“Everyone is very excited and many, many people are coming to see the picture,” she said last month. “Everyone was confused about whether it was real or not real but it’s an amazing picture, it’s amazing art.”

Nottinghamshire police are not thought to have received any reports about the missing bike as yet.

Banksy, who this summer financed a boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from north Africa, was contacted for comment.