The mural is in exactly the same spot—the east face of the Red Vic facing the Decades of Fashion roof—as a similar one that was up briefly in 2010.
Then known as "Haight Street Rat" and depicted with a marker and the words "THIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE," the earlier mural was removed with a section of the building before it toured art galleries two years ago after being saved by private owner Brian Greif.
The rat's reappearance was so subtle, even staff at The Red Vic weren't aware of it until a Hoodline reporter brought it to their attention. The staffers we spoke to didn't know precisely when it had gone up.
If it is indeed an authentic Banksy, the mural joins a handful of others around the city, including "If at first you don't succeed call in an airstrike," which faces the intersection of Broadway and Columbus in North Beach.
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We spoke with Brian Greif, the Bay Area street art aficionado who initially saved the rat in 2010 and who appears in the current documentary "Saving Banksy." The film chronicles the preservation of the piece, which Greif says he acquired with the hopes of placing it in a Bay Area art museum.
The piece currently tours the country for people to see, with the stipulation that exhibits are free and executed in conjunction with supporting the value of street art and graffiti, Greif said.
As to the new iteration of the rat, Greif says, "I think it's great and I'll tell you why. ... It's an honor. Is it a perfect duplication of the Banksy rat? No, but it shows how much tat piece meant to the people in San Francisco."
Correction: an earlier edition of this article stated that the owner of the Haight St. Rat bought it. The piece was acquired through a handshake deal with the Red Vic's former owner, Sami Sunchild, and has never been sold.