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Paper 'reveals Banksy's identity'

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Paper 'reveals Banksy's identity'




Mysterious graffiti artist Banksy is a 34-year-old former public school pupil called Robin Gunningham, The Mail On Sunday has claimed.


The paper says it has identified the "guerrilla artist" from a photograph taken four years ago in Jamaica, which shows a man kneeling by a spray can.


But a spokeswoman for Banksy refused to comment on the report. "We get these calls all the time," she told the BBC.


"I'll say what I always say: I never confirm or deny these stories".


Banksy's stencilled artwork appears unannounced in public spaces around the world.


In January a piece of his graffiti in Portobello Road, west London - which shows a painter finishing off the word "Banksy" - attracted a bid of £208,100 in an online auction.


But the artist is also renowned for his audacious stunts - such as leaving a life-size replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee at Disneyland in 2006.


His fiercely-guarded identity only adds to his subversive appeal - and members of the Hollywood elite including Christina Aguilera and Angelina Jolie have snapped up his paintings.


'Extremely talented'


Banksy's graffiti is highly collectible, but is often removed by local councils

The only solid biographical fact about the artist is that he was born and raised in Bristol.


It has often been rumoured that his real name is Robin Banks and that his parents think he is a painter and decorator - but no-one close to Banksy has ever verified these stories.


Now, the Mail on Sunday claims to have uncovered his true identity.


The newspaper says it traced the artist using a photograph purporting to show Banksy at work in Jamaica in 2004. Former friends and acquaintances identify the man in the picture as Robin Gunningham.


Scott Nurse, who went to the £9,420-a-year Bristol Cathedral School with Gunningham, tells the paper he was "extremely talented at art".


"I am not at all surprised if he is Banksy," he is quoted as saying.


Luke Egan, an artist who later exhibited with Banksy initially denied knowing Gunningham, but eventually agreed he had shared a flat with him.


Asked by the paper whether Gunningham was Banksy, he replied: "Well, he wasn't then". Gunningham's father Peter said he did not recognise the person in the photograph, while his mother Pamela maintained she had never even had a son.


'Crushing disappointment'


The picture the Mail claims is of Banksy was taken by Jamaican photographer Peter Dean Rickards.


It first appeared on the internet and then in the Mail's sister publication, The Evening Standard, in 2004.


Banksy's agent Steve Lazarides told The New Yorker that Rickards' picture did not depict his client - although Colin Saysell, an anti-graffiti officer in Bristol who has followed Banksy for years, concluded the photo was legitimate.


Two years later, Banksy insisted the public should never discover who he is.


"I have no interest in ever coming out," he told Swindle magazine.


"I'm just trying to make the pictures look good; I'm not into trying to make myself look good.


"And besides, it's a pretty safe bet that the reality of me would be a crushing disappointment to a couple of 15-year-old kids out there."



Sounds like a load of shite to me and they've still got no clue who he really is.  Which is amazing.  :thup:



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From The TimesJuly 14, 2008



The artist formerly known as Banksy

Ben Hoyle, Arts Reporter


From the East End of London to Bethlehem and Hollywood, Banksy's sardonic graffiti has made him as world famous as an anonymous artist possibly can be.


Last night the future of the notoriously secretive spray painter and the multimillion-pound industry he has created were in doubt after a newspaper claimed to have unmasked him. Banksy, it suggested, is the pseudonym of Robin Gunningham, 34, a former public schoolboy from Bristol.


The artist's representatives refused to confirm or deny the report, which was based on interviews with dozens of friends, former colleagues, flatmates, enemies and family members over the course of a year.


Five years have passed since a landmark show in Shoreditch started Banksy's rise from street artist to maverick darling of celebrities such as Angelina Jolie. Art world insiders predicted yesterday that the world's most famous graffiti artist may now simply melt away.


Banksy's identity has always been a closely guarded secret, known only to a small circle of friends and associates. He has done only one full newspaper interview and never publicly attends his exhibitions. Although his canvases sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds each in the finest auction houses, his roots and passion remain in illegal street art, for which a protective cloak of anonymity is useful, if not essential.


The most plausible clue to Banksy's identity was a photograph taken in Jamaica four years ago showing a man in blue shirt and jeans with a spray can at his feet. The Mail on Sunday took the photograph to Bristol, where a former neighbour of Mr Gunningham identified him as the man in the photograph.


A classmate at at Bristol Cathedral School remembered Mr Gunningham as being “extremely talented at art” and a decent rugby player. “I am not at all surprised if he is Banksy.”


Mr Gunningham left the school at 16 and is believed to have drifted into Bristol's thriving graffiti subculture. He moved to Hackney in 2000, sharing a flat with a man who worked for a record label for which Banksy drew album covers.


However, neither of Mr Gunningham's parents recognised the man in the photograph. Mr Gunningham himself has apparently disappeared.


I'm surprised there's not been much more discussion about this thread of yours Monsieur Bonko. Would have expected Park life an Chez to have said something at least. :dontknow:

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