A group of men have allegedly begun charging up to $20 (£12.50) to view Banksy's latest graffiti artwork in East New York.
Just ten days into his month-long residency on the streets of New York, Banksy's works have been ruined by jealous rivals, sprayed with artless tags and even completely painted over.
But his latest piece, which shows a small beaver gnawing on a felled 'No Parking' sign, has been covered up with cardboard by enterprising locals who are now charging Banksy-loving visitors money to see it.
Instagram and YouTube clips appeared to show at least three individuals asking for money from snap-happy visitors to their neighbourhood.
One man was filmed ranting: "I could step on this s*** it don't matter to me. I could break this and go and keep doing what I've been doing all day.
"It's worth more to you that this is here than to me. If you want to take a picture it's going to cost something or the s*** could just get broke.
"But before we ruin it, we'd rather leave it so you all can take a picture. I could throw the bike at the wall and that s*** will come off."
In addition to threatening to break the artwork, he allegedly tells the individuals gathered to see the work: "I'll snap your f****** phones."
In a post on her Instagram account, playwright Mallery Avidon said the charge to see the work was $20, though the amateur curators later uncovered the beaver when the "NYPD rolled up wanting to take photos".
An eyewitness told Gothamist that the people who were charging for the work were angry that the crowds flocking to their neighbourhood would never venture there if not for the Banksy.
"The general feeling is that nobody cares about this neighbourhood and now that they have something of value they should benefit," the eyewitness claimed.
"They didn't charge me because one guy has seen me around. They reported that several yellow cabs have pulled up with people wanting to get a look.
"They are firm about the $20 fee and tried to warn me when I left about the crews from the area projects robbing people who look like they don't belong.
"They wouldn't let me take a picture, but were happy to let me take a nice long look while blocking some others who had not paid."Reuse content