By Dean Neistat
Special to DNAinfo.com
EAST VILLAGE — Sometime on Friday night or early Saturday, the mysterious street artist who goes by Banksy, painted a portrait of a clergyman on the inner wall of a concrete building support structure.
But just a day after first appearing, the piece, which he called on his website, "Concrete Confessional" had been defaced.
Crowds gathered at the site over the weekend, which is just outside a new Cooper Union building on East 7th Street between Second and Third avenues. By Sunday morning, several tags near the original piece had appeared, and a white beard was crudely spray-painted on the priest.
A copycat artist also painted a man in similar colors in the concrete cube next to where Banksy's work appeared.
The existence or meaning of the piece, which went up half a block from St. George's Ukranian Catholic Church, was lost on the church's pastor.
"I haven't seen it. I have no comment," said Pastor Bernard Panczuk. "If somebody wants to paint something or use the church as a background, that's fine. That's okay."
Throngs of onlookers politely took turns taking photos of the depicted confessional box all day Saturday. Some have even climbed inside the cement box next to it, to imitate the painting.
On October 7, a battered and bandaged heart was stenciled on a Red Hook building, and the British street artist entitled the piece "Brooklyn." After it was tagged in hours by a grafitti writer, the building's owner erected a plexiglass sheet over the work to protect it.
Banksy’s artwork, when removed from its always pre-existing urban settings, has sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auctions. The artist has not shown his face or revealed his identity, aside from a shadowed interview in which his voice was altered in the award-winning biographical documentary, "Exit Through the Gift Shop."