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It was a deal that made headlines around the world. Kissing Coppers – the celebrated Banksy mural which shows two uniformed policemen locked in an embrace – was sold at auction in Miami last week for £345,000 - reported the DailyMail.
But now it has emerged that the mystery buyer of the life-size black-and-white image may have purchased a work that was created with the help of a Brighton barman called Jez.
Kissing Coppers first appeared on the wall of a pub in the seaside town in 2004. But two years later it was vandalised and all but obliterated.
Staff at the Prince Albert did a hasty restoration job with the assistance of Jez the bartender, who touched up the damaged paintwork so effectively that customers joked he could be the next Banksy.
The work was then placed behind a sheet of Perspex to protect it.
In 2008, however, the mural was removed by specialists and replaced with a replica. The landlord of the Prince Albert, Chris Steward, sent the original to New York in 2011, with a view to finding a buyer.
When Kissing Coppers was auctioned on Tuesday, there was no mention of its chequered history – an omission that has left punters at the Prince Albert baffled.
They recalled the day in October 2006 when two men in a plumber’s van pulled up outside the pub and sprayed black paint over the mural.