Art fan who pushed Banksy to make a piece in Herne Bay 'heartbroken' after work destroyed by builders

The Banksy mural - Banksy/Instagram
The Banksy mural - Banksy/Instagram

A street art super-fan who convinced Banksy to make a piece for his home town was left heartbroken when the work was accidentally destroyed by builders days later.

Jacob Smith, 30, said he spent two years "badgering" the mysterious street artist to stencil graffiti in Herne Bay, Kent.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Banksy had created a work in the area, on the wall of a derelict farmhouse.

But the piece, which could be worth as much as £500,000, was inadvertently pulled down by workers who had no idea it was a genuine Banksy.

The remains of the mural, called Morning is Broken, have since been fished out of a nearby skip, but it is not known what will happen to the pieces of wall.

It showed a young boy opening curtains made of corrugated iron with a cat peering out of the 500-year-old building.

The anonymous artist confirmed he was the creator of the piece in a post shared to Instagram.

The Banksy artwork has since been destroyed - Banksy/Instagram/PA
The Banksy artwork has since been destroyed - Banksy/Instagram/PA

Now Mr Smith is set on keeping it in the seaside town where it was created, as "the work was done for a purpose - to benefit the town".

He said: "I first emailed Banksy's office two-years-ago on the off chance that he would do something in Herne Bay for an art festival I'm putting together."

After emailing right up until the week before the art's unfortunate end, he eventually got the response that his proposals would be put in front of the elusive artist.

But on March 14, he was shown an Instagram post of the crumbled building by his girlfriend.

Mr Smith said: "I felt disbelief and shock when I heard the news. I worked hard to make this happen - so I'm more heartbroken than most.

"I spent so long badgering him to do a piece - and now he has - but no one can see it."

Valuable work

He believes it would be an "awful coincidence" if his emails were not the catalyst for the street-artist hitting Herne Bay.

Mr Smith, a street-art collector and occasional dealer, hopes developers Kitewood will return the work to the town and display it for all to see.

Mr Smith estimates that after being restored, the art could be worth £300,000 to £500,000.

Kitewood has been approached for comment.