Banksy artwork destroyed by Melbourne builder

A large hole was drilled through a Banksy rat to make way for bathroom pipes. Photo: Reuters

A Melbourne builder has inadvertently destroyed a valuable piece of street art by British graffiti artist Banksy, by drilling a hole through it to put in a bathroom pipe.

Melbourne resident Tina McKenzie told Australia's Network Ten that she had lived above Banksy's 'parachuting rat' for almost a decade.

"Anybody that understands street art and recognises it as more than just vandalism understands that it is something we need to preserve," she said.

It is the third work by Banksy in the city to be destroyed within two years, including one that was painted over in 2010 in a council clean-up.

One local gallery owner said the council needed to be more careful in avoiding the destruction of graffiti artwork.

"There should have been something noted on the planning permit that that Banksy work had to somehow be avoided," said Jacqui Vidal.

Banksy, whose identity is unknown to the public, first drew attention in the early 1990s with controversial stencilled graffiti, seen by some as subversive and by others as satire.