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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Iconic Banksy image painted over
A graffiti artist calls for Banksy's return

London transport workers have painted over an iconic mural by "guerrilla artist" Banksy estimated to be worth more than 300,000.

The image depicted a scene from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, with Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta clutching bananas instead of guns.

It had become one of the most famous graffiti paintings by the artist.

Transport for London said a tough line had to be taken on graffiti because it created an atmosphere of social decay.

The Pulp Fiction mural was visible near Old Street Tube station.

In place of the famous image, another graffiti artist has spray-painted the words "come back" in large letters.

Our graffiti removal teams are staffed by professional cleaners not professional art critics
Transport for London
Banksy has become one of art's hottest properties, with Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera among those who are reported to have splashed out on his work.

George Thomas, who owns a barber's shop near the site, told the Independent the image was a "real draw" to the area.

"People used to come from all over to see it and photograph it," he said.

"There is no way it could have been mistaken for graffiti. Whoever destroyed it is an idiot."

Lost Banksys

In March a wall mural in east London by the artist was almost entirely removed by thieves.

One of Banksy's early murals was mistakenly painted over in the same month by Bristol council's graffiti-removal contractors.

And in February two smaller works in London were also painted over.

Commenting on the latest incident, a spokesman said Transport for London had to take a tough line on removing graffiti because it created a "general atmosphere of neglect and social decay which in turn encourages crime".

"We have no intention of changing this policy as it makes the transport system safer and more pleasant for passengers."

The spokesman added that the company recognised that there were some who viewed Banksy's work as legitimate art but that their graffiti removal teams were "staffed by professional cleaners not professional art critics".

Last year Banksy left a life-size replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee at the California theme park Disneyland.

And in 2005, he decorated Israel's controversial West Bank barrier with satirical images of life on the other side.

Banksy's work around the world

Banksy work painted over in error
13 Mar 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Fears sparked over Banksy mural
06 Mar 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Free house as part of Banksy sale
11 Feb 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
On the trail of artist Banksy
08 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Record price for Banksy bomb art
08 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Gang foiled over Banksy theft bid
30 Nov 06 |  Merseyside

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