Banksy, please tell Tokyo if you really did this rat painting

Many flocked to see the work depicting a rat holding an umbrella that was spotted on a panel near a monorail station in central Tokyo.
Many flocked to see the work depicting a rat holding an umbrella that was spotted on a panel near a monorail station in central Tokyo.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo on Thursday (April 25) displayed a drawing thought to be the work of Banksy, as the city's mayor urged the famous and mysterious street artist to get in touch.

Curious Tokyo residents, tourists and art lovers flocked to see the work depicting a rat holding an umbrella that was spotted on a panel near a monorail station in central Tokyo.

As ever, doubts rage over whether it is a genuine work by the secretive artist and governor Yuriko Koike said: "If there are any problems, I'd very much like Mr Banksy to contact the Tokyo metropolitan government."

It is unclear exactly when the drawing - which Ms Koike described as a "cute rat" - was painted but the city's public safety bureau has known about the graffiti for a long time, seemingly oblivious to its potential.

A rat holding an umbrella is one of Banksy's most famous artworks and there are photos on social media dating back several years that appear to show the same drawing.

It was only in December that the city government realised it might be a "Banksy" after local residents contacted officials.

The drawing, behind a protective glass cover, now stands in a corner of the sprawling metropolitan government building.

Viewers voice hopes that it is genuine.

Tokyo has been consulting experts but the work's authenticity has not been confirmed yet.

Banksy, whose identity is known to only a handful of friends, caused a sensation in October when one of his paintings began shredding itself, just after selling for US$1.4 million (S$1.9 million).