A bicycle with a missing wheel accompanying a Banksy mural in Nottingham has vanished, prompting sadness and frustration in the city.
The artwork depicts a girl appearing to hula hoop with a tyre from the bike, which was chained to a nearby pole outside a beauty salon.
Speculation grew after it sprang up on the corner of Rothesay Avenue in the Lenton district on 13 October, until the enigmatic graffiti artist confirmed he was its creator – leading sightseers to queue to visit it.
The bicycle appeared to have been stolen over the weekend, but the council said on Monday that it had been removed by the owner of the building the mural was painted on and taken away “for safekeeping”.
The Nottingham Project, an organisation aiming to “rejuvenate” the city, tweeted that it was working with the council and the building’s owner to protect the artwork. The council has covered the mural with clear plastic sheeting.
A replacement Raleigh Outland mountain bike, missing its rear wheel, had been put in its place by Monday morning. Kyle Myatt, a local food delivery rider, told the BBC he had bought the replacement for £20 after seeing the original bike had gone.
He said: “I just did it to see people happier. Even if it’s not been stolen, I’m still glad I replaced it as it looks like part of the Banksy. And at least now if someone does nick it, the original is safe.”
Primary school teacher Tracy Sansom, from Nottingham, noticed the original had disappeared when she went to see it on Sunday morning.
“Everyone’s talking about it, but when we arrived I was like: ‘Oh my God, the bike’s gone,’” she said.
Her late husband worked for bicycle maker Raleigh, one of the largest companies in Nottingham until it closed in 2002 – meaning she had an emotional connection to the work, which was near the old factory.
Another nearby resident, Louise Harrison, said: “I feel like Banksy has given us a gift when we were at a low with increasing infection rates … the missing bike does take away from it.”
Surinder Kaur, who runs a nearby beauty salon, said the bike had appeared at the same time as the mural.
“Everyone is very excited and many, many people are coming to see the picture,” she said last month. “Everyone was confused about whether it was real or not real but it’s an amazing picture, it’s amazing art.”
Banksy, who this summer financed a boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from north Africa, was contacted for comment.
• This article was amended on 23 November 2020. Tracy’s surname is Sansom, not Jayne as stated in an earlier version.