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$2K Mural on East River Waterfront Stolen Days After it Was Unveiled

 The banner put up by Friends of the East River Esplanade was stolen over of the weekend, the group says, after it was installed early last week.
The banner put up by Friends of the East River Esplanade was stolen over of the weekend, the group says, after it was installed early last week.
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NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney

HARLEM — A recently installed $2,000 banner on the East River Esplanade was stolen days after its unveiling, a local conservancy group said Monday.

Friends of the East River Esplanade put up the 60-foot-long, 7-foot-tall artwork on 116th Street and FDR Drive last Wednesday in an effort to beautify the waterfront and drum up interest in the area.

But members said sometime between Saturday and Sunday the banner vanished.

“These were double braided steel ties. You had to really go with pliers, this is not like taking scotch tape off the wall kind of thing,” said Jennifer Ratner, a member of the Friends of the East River Esplanade.

The group enlisted renowned artist Kenny Scharf to create the colorful banner and a brick column of colorful cartoon faces.

But someone liked — or hated — the banner so much they stole it, Ratner said.

“This was so professional,” she said. “If someone did not like it, it was just up temporarily.”

The banner, which Ratner said cost $2,000 to print, was expected to remain up until the end of September and the brick column is slated to remain until June 2017.

Ratner said the artist tied the banner to the chain-link with double-stranded steel bailing wire — which is “much stronger that plastic zip ties,” she said — and snipped excess wire to secure it to the fence and make it difficult to untie.  

She said professional tools would have had to be used to take it down.

The group filed a police report with the 25th Precinct and is hoping someone is caught or will return the art, Ratner said.

“We’re trying to get the word out there in hopes that someone will return it,” she said.

This isn’t the first time the group’s public art display was vandalized.

Last year, which was the first time there was a public art installation on East Harlem's waterfront park, Ratner said the banner was slashed.

“We were trying to do something nice for the waterfront so no, I guess no good deed (goes unpunished),” she said.

Ratner said the group plans to install another banner if the original is not returned.