Tough luck for local Banksy fans: the iconic "Haight Street Rat" mural that popped up in San Francisco earlier this week is merely an homage to the notorious street artist and not an authentic Banksy.
Hoodline reports that the recreation of the beloved image on a Red Victorian in the Upper Haight is not an authorized Banksy creation. According to the tipster, the artists — or vandals, depending on where you stand — projected the beret-donning rat from the roof of nearby vintage clothing store Decades of Fashion on Tuesday. But as seen in the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy only uses stencils for his work.
Brian Greif, a local street art collector who served as the subject and executive producer for the documentary Saving Banksy, said he was thrilled over the imitation.
“It’s great that people are aware enough of that specific site and the 'Haight Street Rat' that they’d want to go up and do any kind of representation of that piece of work,” said Greif, who owns the original “Rat.”
The original “Rat” has been on public display on the window at the Weinstein Gallery on Geary St., with the hope that it stays true to Banksy’s original intent. It will leave San Francisco at the end of the month, where it will pay a visit to the library in Kokomo, Indiana and a couple of cities in Canada.
If this reproduction were a certified Banksy, it would have joined the few holdovers from his previous trips to San Francisco, such as the “Call An Airstrike” mural on Broadway and Columbus. Alas, enthusiasts will need to wait for the artist to make another pit stop to get the real deal, and Greif laments that a Banksy visit to San Francisco may not happen anytime soon.
“I wish he was in a position where he could do more public work,” he said. “Everyone wants to reveal his identity.”
Though he hasn't made big headlines, there’s been evidence recently that Banksy is still leaving his mark on the sly. A newspaper in Malta reported on Tuesday that Banksy may have stenciled a new piece, this time of a baby sitting on a British Bobby helmet.