A GRAFFITI picture ‘signed’ by legendary artist Banksy has been dismissed as a fake.

The image of a Zebra morphing into a barcode was painted on the wall of a block of flats in Bournemouth’s lower gardens.

The effort created an online stir and national coverage thanks to the anonymous artist’s worldwide reputation.

A Banksy stencil with a similar theme called ‘Leopard and Barcode’ recently sold for £75,650 at auction.

Several councils have protected his satirical images from their graffiti removal teams.

However expert Richard Howard-Griffin, from Street Art London, told the Echo there was “not a chance” it was real.

He said: “The context is weak, the subject is old, the stencilling poor. It has been probably been executed by a bored GCSE art student.”

Wayne Anthony, co-editor of London Street-Art Design, said more than 7,000 people had viewed the image in a few hours on the magazine’s Facebook page.

But he said: “We see no reason to endorse this stencil as Banksy.

“It’s quite messy whereas Banksy paints much clearer lines especially when it comes to detail.”

The Echo emailed the camera shy artist’s website but received no reply on Tuesday. The work does not feature on the site’s recent updates.

It has been done on the rear wall on a block of flats called Capella Court, which runs along the footpath behind the mini-golf course.

Staff working at a nearby hotel said they first noticed the image around the time of the torch relay. The owners of Capella Court asked the council to paint over it without realising what it allegedly was, although the work has not yet been carried out.

Tina Stewart, from managing agents Rebbeck Brothers, said she would examine the image for herself and speak to the owners.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday the painting was genuine but hours later added an online update that it was a fake, citing unnamed “sources”.

A more reliable Banksy cropped up in Bournemouth in 2004, when his ‘Buried Treasure’ stencil appeared on the Pier pointing to a patch of sand.