Old interview confirms street artist Banksy’s first name

During a 2003 interview by BBC correspondent Nigel Wrench, the anonymous artist said his first name was ‘Robbie’

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Wed 22 Nov 2023, 4:08 PM

The identity of graffiti artist Banksy is one of the most alluring mysteries of the art world. The Bristol-based artist is known for his anti-establishment stencil art that has appeared around the world, from the West Bank to several locations in war-affected cities of Ukraine.

On Monday, BBC reported that they have rediscovered a decade-old interview in which Banksy confirmed his first name. In the 2003 interview when BBC correspondent Nigel Wrench interviewed Banksy before the opening of his Turf War show in east London, Wrench asked if he could use the artist’s name, and Banksy said yes. Wrench then asked, “Is it Robert Banks?” To which, Banksy replied, “It’s Robbie.”

This recording was recently shared on the BBC podcast, The Banksy Story. The recording gives people the chance to listen to the anonymous artist’s voice for the first time.

Interestingly, the same year when Banksy spoke to Wrench, he also met with The Guardian journalist Simon Hattenstone.

Hattenstone described the graffiti artist as, “Bansky is white, 28, scruffy casual - jeans, T-shirt, a silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring. He looks like a cross between Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner of the Streets.”

Over the years, there have been many speculations about Banksy’s identity. A popular theory believes that Banksy is graffiti artist Robin Gunningham. This speculation was strengthened after Gunningham was named in a defamation case filed by US clothing company Guess against Banksy. Guess filed the lawsuit after Banksy urged his followers to shoplift at Guess’s Regent Street store in London as the brand had used his ‘Flower Thrower’ graffiti without his permission.

Another popular theory is that while Banksy was once an individual, it soon became a global collective of artists.

If Banksy’s real identity is revealed, he or they can be the subject of numerous legal cases of vandalism, property destruction, and criminal mischief.

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