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Artist's ‘Willy Wonka' Mural Stolen While on Display in Pacific Beach

The portrait of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka is a very special piece for artist Ben Jay

Artwork, priceless to one artist, was stolen in just a matter of minutes while on display in Pacific Beach.

The incident happened earlier this week in an alley near Felspar and Morrell streets.

Now, the artist, Ben Jay, is turning to social media to try to find his prized possession: a unique mural depicting Willy Wonka.

Jay is a spray paint artist and lets his creativity run wild in his creations.

"I do a lot of portraits, pet portraits, human portraits. Just random--whatever comes to mind," he said.

He said his favorites include tributes made in honor of some of the late greats, like Gene Wilder and David Bowie.

A portrait of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka is a unique piece for Jay. It was displayed for more than a year in the alley right by his home.

But earlier this week, within just a few minutes, it was stolen.

"The heavy duty zip ties had been cut, and grommets had been pulled away, and it wasn't here," he explained. "It's certainly going to affect how I hang art out in my outdoor gallery here, and what the neighborhood is going to get to see of it."

Jay said he has no idea who would take the artwork.

He has made a studio in the alley and is often working in the space. If you’ve seen his mural, he asked that you stop by and let him know.

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