Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley last week sent a clean-up team into Hosier Lane, renowned internationally for its colorful street art, to clean up garbage in the graffiti-lined passage after local residents complained.
But the request went awry when the cleaners painted over a Banksy stencil of a rat hanging underneath a parachute and adorning the wall of an old council building.
"Unfortunately the contractors were not made aware by us that that was an important piece. It is the nature of graffiti art. It's very vulnerable to other people's work," Council chief executive Kathy Alexander told local radio.
The reclusive Banksy, who is regarded as one of the world's top street artists, painted several stencils in Melbourne during a 2003 visit. His satirical and distinctive art is often directed at anti-war, cultural and anti-capitalist themes.
Who takes the blame for painting over the priceless piece?