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Guerilla Artist Banksy Spurs Billboard Fight Ahead Of Oscars

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Even with an Academy Award nomination for a film based on his work, one of the world’s most notorious street artists isn’t quite ready to go Hollywood.

“Exit Through the Gift Shop”, the first film about the artist known only as Banksy, is up for an Oscar next month — and a new smattering of graffiti from the subversive Briton on local walls and billboards may be his own unique version of a media blitz.

One example of Banksy’s trademark blend of pop culture and social commentary was spotted opposite the Directors Guild of America offices on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

The depiction of a cocktail-swigging Mickey Mouse grabbing the breast of a model ultimately sparked a heated argument over the rights to its ownership.

Jeff Serber, the owner of the property that rents out the space to the sign company, says he only wanted to ensure there was no illegal activity occurring on his property.

“My neighbor came to tell me that somebody is doing something to my billboard, so I came over to check it out,” Serber said.

Police were called and the workers who were initially called in remove the drape on which the graffiti was stenciled were eventually allowed to leave with the illustration — which could turn out be extremely valuable if confirmed to be a genuine work from Banksy.

SLIDESHOW: Banksy Back For Oscars

Banksy, believed to originate from the southwestern English city of Bristol, first garnered attention in the early 1990s for his controversial street art pieces, which now frequently net six-figures from celebrity fans.

Billed as “the world’s first street art disaster movie”, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where Banksy made another appearance to paint up the streets of Park City, Utah.

The movie, which was nominated last month for a best documentary Oscar, examines both the nature and impact of Banksy’s unconventional artwork around the world.

The Academy Awards will be handed out at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Feb 27.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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