QT Hotel in the Gold Coast said it gave Justin Bieber permission to spray graffiti on its wall. The Canadian singer and others posted images online showing cartoon faces in fluorescent paint on an outdoor wall at the hotel in Queensland state.
After hearing criticism, the hotel changed its Facebook page cover art Thursday to show Bieber, his graffiti and the declaration: "He asked, and we said YES."
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate says the singer risked undermining the city's efforts to fight graffiti. "The last thing we want is to have graffiti glorified and more young people thinking it's a cool thing to do," he said.
In a letter to the hotel, Tate asserted the city can insist on removal of graffiti in private spaces if it's visible from public spaces.
But in further posts on its Facebook page, QT Hotel defended Bieber as an excellent hotel guest and said it wanted to promote graffiti as an art form. It invited artists to share examples of their work to be judged, with select artists being offered a hotel wall they could spray-paint themselves.
"It was a coup for the hotel to have Justin want to paint a piece of art in appreciation of his stay," the hotel said in an emailed statement on Friday. "This piece of art is now available to be viewed by fans of the artist and we believe that it is a wonderful addition to the colorful Gold Coast arts scene."
Bieber performed in Brisbane on Wednesday and has more concerts in Sydney on Friday and Saturday.
The 19-year-old pop star arrived in Australia after a troubled Latin American tour.
He apologized to Argentinians after images appeared to show him dragging that country's flag across the stage with his feet. He quit one concert early after apparently contracting food poisoning, and police in Brazil want to question him about another graffiti incident there.