The Gold Coast hotel where Justin Bieber tagged graffiti is campaigning to keep the artwork as a row with the city’s council, who want the images removed, escalates.
The 19-year-old spray-painted a wall in the tennis court area of the Gold Coast’s QT Hotel in the early hours of Wednesday, after returning from a sold-out Believe tour show in Brisbane Tuesday night.
Bieber subsequently posted a picture of his artwork to his Instagram account where it has attracted over 555,000 “Likes.”
Like previous graffiti he left in various South American countries, the singer painted an assortment of colorful cartoon characters, Pacman ghosts, and a Spongebob Squarepants image.
City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate has ordered the hotel to remove or paint over the graffiti and expressed his displeasure over Bieber’s “really, really silly” actions in numerous interviews with Australian and international news outlets.
On Thursday, the Mayor told Australia’s 7News Bieber should clean up his mess, adding,
“The last thing we want is to have graffiti glorified and more young people thinking it’s a cool thing to do.”
A spokesman for Mayor Tate blasted the singer, telling Reuters, “This eyesore has no place in the city. If that’s the example Justin wants to set, it’s really unfortunate. But at the end of the day it’ll get cleaned up, whether or not he decides to.”
The Mayor’s office previously delivered a “graffiti removal kit” to the QT Hotel for the teenage star, but Bieber had already left for Sydney ahead of two shows in the capital on Friday and Saturday.
Not to be deterred Tate tweeted Justin on Thursday, writing,
— Mayor Tom Tate (@MayorTomTate) November 28, 2013
Despite an order from the Gold Coast City Council to clean up Bieber’s graffiti, the QT Hotel has said it explicitly gave the singer permission to spray-paint the wall.
“The piece of artwork will be left for fans to enjoy,” it told Reuters in an email. “We believe it is a wonderful addition to the colourful Gold Coast arts scene.”
The hotel posted a Facebook page on Thursday saying they “absolutely gave approval” for the graffiti on their property.
“He asked, and we said YES,” the hotel added, next to a picture of Justin’s art.
The hotel insists the City Council has no authority to get rid of the graffiti because it is on private property and not accessible from public land.
Nevertheless, a spokesman for the local government told The Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper, “It might be on private land, but it’s in prominent public view.”
“The city has a zero tolerance approach to graffiti,” a mayoral spokesman told the BBC.
“The mayor will contact the hotel to say that if Justin Bieber does not want to use the free graffiti removal kit left with him, then the hotel is expected to use it. If not, we will send council compliance officers to ensure the mess is taken care of.”
Describing Bieber as “a lovely young guy,” the QT hotel has since said,
“We love this wall and everything that it says about our ties with the arts and entertainment communities.”
At its Facebook page, the hotel denied a “made up staffer quote” published in some reports, and has begun a search for local graffiti artists to adorn walls around the QT complex in an effort to do “something positive for the arts community.”
The ‘Bieber Graffiti’ showdown appears to be heating up.
(Photo: The QT hotel responded to a commenter at their Facebook page with this message.)