Clacton-on-Sea scrubbed an immigration-themed Banksy mural off a wall in the town because someone complained it was racist.
The stencil, which showed four pigeons holding placards including "Go Back to Africa" and "Migrants Not Welcome" while a colourful breed of bird looked on, was painted onto a seafront building on Sunday.
The ironic theme may be a response to the upcoming by-election in the town on 9 October, which is being fought by Ukip candidate Douglas Carswell, who last month defected from the Conservatives to join Nigel Farage's party, which promotes a tougher stance on immigration.
Tendring District Council removed the estimated £400,000 piece of work after officials agreed the art could be seen as offensive.
It has since emerged, however, that the council was not aware the mural was a genuine piece by the elusive Bristol-based Banksy.
A spokesman said: "The site was inspected by staff who agreed that it could be seen as offensive and it was removed this morning in line with our policy to remove this type of material within 48 hours.
"We would obviously welcome an appropriate Banksy original on any of our seafronts and would be delighted if he returned in the future."
A spokeswoman for Banksy said he would not be commenting further on the Clacton artwork.