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Banksy reveals his name in an unearthed 2003 BBC interview

By Camille Santiago Published Nov 21, 2023 6:11 pm Updated Nov 21, 2023 6:16 pm

Graffiti artist Banksy appeared to reveal his name in a 2003 radio interview with BBC that has recently been found.

Sharing for the first time, two decades later, BBC has released the full interview of The Banksy Story with Banksy and former arts correspondent Nigel Wrench for BBC Radio 4's PM program.

The Bristol-based artist, who has remained anonymous for decades, at that time was promoting his show Turf War in London.

Wrench asked him if he could use Banksy's real name, adding that The Independent had already used it in the past. When asked to confirm if his name was Robert Banks, Banksy replied: "It's Robbie."

Banksy has long intrigued the public with his identity as he rarely gives interviews. Several individuals have been proposed as him, including Rober Del Naja, a member of the English trip-hop group Massive Attack. Theories suggested that the fact they were both from the Bristol area and that the musician also was into graffiti was evidence that they were one.

Jamie Hewlett, an English comic book illustrator and co-creator of the band Gorillaz, and Art Attack’s Neil Buchanan have also been suggested as Banksy.

In 2008, The Daily Mail published an article claiming that a man named Robin Gunningham was Banksy after talking to friends and acquaintances from his school. They said that Gunningham adopted the name Robin Banks and later changed his name to Banksy. The publication even had a photograph of a man wearing a blue shirt and jeans, but Banksy denied that it was him in the photo.

But recently in October, there were reports that Banksy, together with co-defendant Pest Control Lt—the company that sells the artist’s work—was the subject of a defamation lawsuit. They said the lawsuit could force Banksy to reveal himself in court. 

The lawsuit stems from a now-deleted post by the artist, who claimed that clothing brand Guess used one of his works, Flower Thrower, in its window display in London.

“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?” Banksy wrote in 2022.

Brandalised, the collaborator of the said collection and a company that also sells images of Banksy’s works, argued: “[Banksy’s] post, by way of innuendo, meant and was understood to mean that the claimant had stolen Banksy’s artwork by licensing images to Guess without permission or other legal authority." 

Banksy started as a freehand graffiti artist in the early 1990s and has since made a name for himself through his "anti-authoritarian art" in public places.