Banksy, the most elusive artist of the 21st century has kept his identity a secret since his first ever wall mural in 1997 – the Mild Mild West covering a former solicitors’ office in Bristol. Now in 2023, merely 26 years and thousands of creations later, a lost interview has appeared revealing the artist’s name.
This would mark the only time we know of in which the street artist’s real name has come to light with evidence, surfacing from a 2003 recording conducted by a BBC reporter. They ask if Banksy’s name is “Robert Banks”. The voice replies “it’s Robbie.”
Banksy is one of the few living artists we can actually call a household name (and the only whose name we don’t actually know). The political and satirical depictions span all over the world, moving stencils from London to LA, Salt Lake City to Calais. Speculations have always been circlin, with top theories including the likes of Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, Gorillaz founder Jamie Hewlett, and even Neil Buchanan from the kid’s show Art Attack. The originals are worth an eye-watering amount of money, with the likes of Devolved Parliament selling for a record-breaking $12,142,893. Banksy does not necessarily approve of said commercial value.
The most recent and closest call to the ultimate outing was in 2008 when the Daily Mail revealed Banksy as middle-aged public school Robin Gunningham. This was disproved, however, yet many still choose to believe this theory. Now, Robert Banks – or Robbie, apparently – is being exposed by a company who are threatening to sue because of their damaged reputation in 2022. Banksy’s Instagram caption to the company read: “Alerting all shoplifters. Please go to GUESS on Regent Street. They’ve helped themselves to my artwork without asking, how can it be wrong for you to do the same to their clothes?”
Details about who Robbie Banks actually is are yet to surface, but with the association between Banks and Banksy and the hard evidence recording said to be presented in court – who are we to disprove?