A new Banksy mural appears to have been vandalised just hours after being unveiled.
The Bristol-born artist’s work, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, depicts a couple of reindeer pulling a bench.
But bright red noses have now been sprayed onto the animals, sparking outrage on social media.
A Twitter user wrote: “Doesn’t surprise me… always someone who wants to ruin something special.”
According to reports, a young man in a hoodie, thought to be in his mid-20s, sprayed the mural with red paint soon after the work was confirmed as a genuine Banksy.
The man allegedly asked onlookers whether he should “tag” the wall, before ignoring pleas not to do so.
The Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) has been forced to employ security overnight to protect the art from further vandalism.
Jewellery Quarter BID marketing manager Steve Lovell said: “When we learned a Banksy had appeared, we were obviously delighted.
“It is truly an incredible and thought-provoking piece, which highlighted a genuine crisis in our city.
“But we were astounded to hear it had been defaced so soon after appearing – it was only a matter of hours.
“A young guy just jumped over the barriers and sprayed two noses on it, which is inaccurate to start with as only Rudolph has a red nose.
“He was asking the crowds whether he should do it and people were begging him saying, ‘Please don’t do it, please don’t do it’.
“We were shocked and disgusted and one of our executives tried to clean it off, but to no avail.
“She stayed there until quite late into the evening before he could get security to watch it overnight. They were still there this morning when I arrived for work.
“We are now considering how to protect it as there was even talk of thieves coming and stealing it brick by brick. It’s a railway bridge so that would be extremely dangerous.
“But Banksy has himself admitted his work gets defaced, it is street art at the end of the day. However, we still want to preserve it.
“There is so much footfall past the painting so we want to protect it the best we can because we are honoured to have a Banksy here in the city.”
Banksy published an Instagram video of his latest work yesterday, with the clip showing a homeless man named Ryan lying on the bench.
Banksy wrote: “God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”