Who is Banksy? It’s been one of the biggest mysteries in the world of art and pop culture since the street artist burst onto the scene in the early 2000s.
We may be one step closer to the artist’s true identity following the recent discovery of a lost BBC interview in which Banksy appears to confirm his name.
BBC reported that a 2003 interview between young up-and-coming street artist Banksy and former BBC correspondent Nigel Wrench had been found. The original footage was edited for a BBC Radio spot which was then used as part of the BBC podcast series The Banksy Story which was released in July. But Wrench, after listening to the podcast, was inspired to revisit the complete original recording and discovered much more buried information about the artist that was never used.
In a leaked audio recording, Wrench talks to Banksy, then in his twenties, ahead of the artist’s Turf War exhibition in East London in the summer of 2003. Wrench asks Banksy if his name is ‘Robert Banks’, and the artist replies: Robbie is better.”
The identity of Banksy has long intrigued the art world, and the UK tabloid press in particular. The artist rarely gives interviews, and this has contributed to his mystique. In one of his few early interviews, he spoke to Guardian reporters in 2003, and was described as “white, 28, scruffy, dressed casually – jeans, t-shirt, silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring. Like a cross between actor Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner from The Streets.
Over the past two decades, various people have been identified by the public as Banksy, most notably Roberto Del Naya, aka 3D, founder of the influential trip-hop group Massive Attack. Alleged evidence that Del Naya was Banksy included that they were both from the Bristol area and the musician also dabbled in graffiti in his youth.
Jamie Hewlett, the artist and designer best known for co-creating the band Gorillaz and the comic book Tank Girl, has also been suggested as the person behind the Banksy “project” in the past.
In 2008, The Daily Mail claimed that a Bristol man named Robin Gunningham was Banksy. The newspaper spoke to Gunningham’s school friends and peers to confirm the story. The Mail reports that Gunningham has since taken the name Robin Banks, which later became Banksy.
In October, The Sunday Times reported that Gunningham could be forced to reveal his identity in a defamation lawsuit that would decide whether he was behind the famous murals.
Banksy and his works are valued in the millions
Banksy is called a British national treasure, and his works of street art adorn the streets of London, Paris, Ukraine… His works regularly reach prices of several million pounds, but the public still does not know what the famous artist actually looks like or what his real name is.
One of his most famous works, “Girl with a Balloon”, was recently sold at auction for 1.5 million euros, three times the original estimate.
One of the murals of the famous British artist Banksy, which was on the wall of a ruined building in Ukraine, was saved from destruction and will be exhibited in the city park in Irpin, near Kyiv.
Yesterday, workers separated a part of the wall on which the mural is located, in order to preserve it since the Ukrainian authorities plan to demolish two residential buildings that were badly damaged during the Russian bombing in Irpin.
A part of the wall with a mural depicting a rhythmic gymnast with a necklace around her neck was transferred to the city park.
In honor of the artist and as an expression of gratitude, on February 24 this year, the anniversary of the start of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian government unveiled a new postage stamp featuring a Banksy mural depicting a child defeating a man in a judo uniform, which is most likely an allusion to the Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is widely known to be a judoka. By the way, graffiti from a postage stamp is on the wall of a bombed-out house in the town of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region.
At the beginning of the year, word spread that the first Banksy exhibition “Mystery of Banksy” will be organized in the region. and in Zagreb in 2024. Due to the demanding production, as well as many legal vicissitudes, nothing is yet known about the future of this installation in the capital of Croatia.
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