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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Banksy works to be painted over
'Jack & Jill' by Banksy
Several Banksy artworks are going on sale this week in London
Graffiti art by the acclaimed artist Banksy on streets in Tower Hamlets is to be painted over.

Stencilled artwork from the guerrilla artist can be seen on walls across London, but Tower Hamlets is the first council to treat them as vandalism.

The plan comes as 11 pieces of the artist's work go on sale on Wednesday.

Banksy, from Bristol, made his name with public art and subversive stunts. His works now sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The actress Angelina Jolie reportedly bought one of his works for more than 200,000.

Eleven of Banksy's stencilled artworks go on sale on Wednesday at Bonham's auction house in Knightsbridge.

We need to be clear here, graffiti is a crime
Tower Hamlets councillor Abdal Ullah

A piece, commissioned by rock band Blur for their 2003 album Think Tank, recently sold in London for 300,000, Gareth Williams of Bonhams said.

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets Council said it had not thought of selling the potentially valuable artwork to help raise money for council services, but did not rule out such action being considered in the future.

A statement said: "Tower Hamlets Council takes the cleanliness of the borough very seriously and is committed to removing all graffiti as soon as possible.

"Whilst some graffiti is considered to be art, we know that many of our residents think graffiti in areas where they live, such as local housing estates, is an eyesore."

Tower Hamlets councillor Abdal Ullah said: "We need to be clear here, graffiti is a crime.

"It spoils the environment, makes our neighbourhoods feel less safe, and costs thousands of pounds each year to clean - money that could instead be paying for valuable local services."

It is not yet known how many of the artist's works would be affected.

The future of a Banksy piece painted on a wall in Bristol recently went to public vote, with 97% of people saying it should be kept.

Mixed reactions over the artistic merits of Banksy

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