An Essex couple who have removed a Banksy artwork and shipped to the US for auction have been slammed as "selfish". 

The mural appeared on the wall in Lowestoft in August but was removed on November 14 and shipped to California, US for an auction next year. 

A tongue-in-cheek plaque was stuck on the wall where Banksy's artwork was, reading: "On this wall was a painting gifted to the people of Lowestoft, but money talks... Bye bye Banksy."

The plaque was erected on Saturday and removed a day later. 

The property - an old electrical shop - is owned by Essex couple Gary and Nadine Schwartz, who bought it in May this year for £233,500 under their business Gardinez Properties Ltd. 

Just a few months later an image of a child with a crowbar appeared on its wall along with other images attributed to Banksy which appeared in the town.

Gary, 54, was tight-lipped when approached for comment, saying: "I'm not interested in saying anything at the moment. I'm just keeping it to myself."

Read more >> Protective screen installed over 'Banksy' mural in Harwich

Banksy collector John Brandler said that the mural will fetch well over £1million at auction but added that the council should have better protected it. 

He said: "It’s not just the money. It’s its pulling power for tourists. 

"The council are supposed to be looking after the benefits of the town and they did nothing. 

“No preservation order. They didn’t buy it. They did nothing. 

“If the building owner leaves it there he has to protect it and restore it. He’s liable for it."

John said that he was offered the Lowestoft Banksy piece to put up for auction but refused as "I wanted it to stay in Lowestoft". 

The mural was one of 10 pieces made this summer in Banksy's 'Great British Spraycation' project on the east coast of England, of which two were in Lowestoft. 

Banksy's artwork initially caused the old electrical shop's market value to skyrocket. 

It went up for sale this summer for £300,000 but was removed from the market when Banksy's mural appeared in August. 

Echo: The property - an old electrical shop - is owned by Essex couple Gary and Nadine Schwartz. Picture: SWNSThe property - an old electrical shop - is owned by Essex couple Gary and Nadine Schwartz. Picture: SWNS

It was then relisted for £500,000 before the mural was covered with a protective screen and ripped from the side of the building in November. 

The mural was shipped to Julien's Auctions in California which sells high-profile items - including Banksy pieces. 

John said that Banksy has not certified the artwork so most auction houses in the UK won't sell it, but it can be sold in the US. 

John said: "One of the problems for Banksy owners is that he won’t authenticate the artwork. 

"He puts it into the world but doesn’t want people to sell it. The system now is that if he’s not selling it he won’t authenticate it.

“The four main auctions houses won’t sell anything by Banksy if he doesn’t provide a certificate."

An East Suffolk Council spokesperson said: “The Banksy artworks have been enjoyed by hundreds of visitors and the local community and we are saddened to see this piece removed.

"We are not party to any information on the future of this artwork but we can only hope that, wherever it goes, it will remain accessible for people to enjoy.

“Thanks to Banksy’s ‘Great British Spraycation’ this summer, we are fortunate to still have several other pieces in Lowestoft and Oulton Broad, as well as other street art such as the recently revealed bittern in Oulton Broad, created by renowned artist ATM as part of a series of murals commissioned by Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

"We are also progressing plans for a community project where local people can work with artists to produce more street art in the town.”