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Banksy’s flying reindeer highlight Christmas homeless plight

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Banksy's flying reindeer highlight Christmas homeless plight

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Illusory British street artist Banksy highlighted the issue of hard sleep on a seasonal mural showing two flying reindeers pulling a homeless man in a sleigh on the street bench.

The artwork, created in Banksy's graffiti style, appeared in Birmingham later this week.

A video posted on Banksy's Instagram shows a bearded man named Ryan reclining on the bench, echoing the traditional image of Santa Claus in his sleigh.

"God bless Birmingham," Banksy wrote. "In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench, passersby gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him asking for anything."

The video attracted nearly 3 million views on Instagram in the first 24 hours and created a buzz in Birmingham.

The two reindeer were given a red nose within hours of the mural's inauguration. A protective fence was installed on Tuesday, interrupting further additions to the project.

Mercia Buddle, one of the people who visited the mural on Tuesday, said this is good for the city.

"Visitors are coming and probably came from all over the Midlands," she said. "And of course it's great to highlight homelessness when the guy was at the bank, so it serves a lot of purposes – I think it's great."

Slideshow (9 Images)

Banksy's works, which never revealed his identity, soared in value.

A large Banksy chimpanzee painting in the British Parliament sold for more than $ 12 million in October, a record auction price for his work.

Later that same month, however, Banksy opened his own "online store," selling works for just £ 10 to randomly selected buyers who could answer the question, "Why does art matter?"

Written by Paul Sandle; editing by Stephen Addison

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