A bizarre bidding frenzy has broken out over a derelict pub... because it is adorned with Britain's most valuable piece of Banksy graffiti.
The Whitehouse pub is on the market for just £495,000, but art experts say the huge image of a rat holding a machine gun that covers the building could be worth £1 million.
Despite the housing market slump, with average prices in Liverpool falling by 16 per cent, estate agents Sutton Kersh have been inundated with offers above the asking price.
But the majority of bids have been from canny investors wanting to buy the graffiti at a bargain basement price.
Valuable: The giant rat was commissioned from the secretive artist in 2004 as part of a Liverpool-wide art festival
Bristol-born Banksy daubed the giant masterpiece on the Georgian building in Berry Street as part of Liverpool's Biennial art programme in 2004.
The then relatively underground artist spent a week on Merseyside, painting various buildings with his tag, before he found world-wide fame with his politically charged images.
As an official commission the work is a rarity for Banksy who has stopped authenticating his work to discourage dealers from cashing in.
Banksy has now conquered the art world, selling his unique pieces for millions, and counts Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie among his fans.
Urban art specialists Purple Revolver, who have campaigned for the giant Banksy to be preserved, said it would easily fetch more than £1 million at auction.
Director Amber Tan said: 'This is Britain's biggest Banksy, painted while he was still relatively unknown and the value reflects its size.
'As a graffiti artist, Banksy has gained international acclaim for his works, many of which now command millions at auction.
'The asking price for the pub makes it a bargain and it wouldn't be a surprise if it fetched three times that.
'The buyer will effectively be getting a giant Banksy free with the pub.
'There is no reason why the graffiti could not be worked into any future renovation scheme, as it is a major tourist attraction.'
A spokesman for Liverpool-based estate agents Sutton Kersh said: "We have been inundated with offers for the building.
'The pub is a Grade II listed building and we're selling it as a development opportunity.
'We are aware that the Banksy was commissioned to paint it in 2004 and many of offers since it went on the market have been from art dealers.'Original here