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Banksy in Tokyo? City launches probe

[TOKYO] Tokyo is trying to verify if a drawing of a rat holding an umbrella that has been sprayed near a station is the work of the famous and mysterious street artist Banksy.

"We noticed there is a drawing of a rat painted with spray" on the door near a monorail station in central Tokyo, government official Koji Sugiyama told AFP.

"We think there's a possibility it has been done by Banksy."

A rat holding an umbrella is one of Banksy's most famous artworks.

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The government removed the door and placed it in storage Wednesday night to prevent any damage, Mr Sugiyama said.

It is unclear when it was painted but local residents contacted the government about the work at the end of last year.

The government hopes to find out if it is truly a work by Banksy, but "we still don't know if there's an expert in Japan", the official admitted, adding that the government will discuss ways to verify the painting.

Banksy, a British street artist whose identity is known to only a handful of friends, caused a sensation in October when one of his paintings began shredding itself, just after selling for US$1.4 million.

Experts say Girl with Balloon, which is now called Love is in the Bin, is probably worth even more because the stunt created such a massive media stir.

AFP