A once lost interview with the artist known as “Banksy” has revealed what could be his real first name.
In 2003, BBC reporter Nigel Wrench sat down with the British artist in one of his first radio interviews.
In the recording, Wrench can be heard asking Banksy if he is called “Robert Banks”.
The artist replied: “It’s Robbie”.
The revelation has come to light in a new series on the UK’s BBC Radio 4 called The Banksy Story which charts the enigmatic artist’s rise and global impact.
Banksy, from Bristol in England’s west, is famous for his distinctive stencilled style of street art. While his art could be considered criminal damage, it’s also now worth millions to a property owner if a Banksy work appears on an exterior wall.
One of the most notable Banksy moments was in 2018, when his painting Girl with Balloon partially shredded itself seconds after it was auctioned off in London for $2.13 million. Three years later, the half shredded artwork, by then rechristened Love in the Bin, sold again but this time for $35.24 million.
Throughout his career, his true identity has remained a mystery.
But there has been speculation Banksy’s first name is Robin, Robert or Robbie, the BBC reported.
Interview recordings unearthed
Wrench said he was listening to the new podcast which led him to dig out the raw recordings of his interview. It was then that he found Banksy confirming his name.
However, during the interview the artist did not confirm that his surname was indeed Banks, as suggested.
The interview is also one of the few times when Banksy’s voice has been heard.
When the old recording was discovered a new episode was added to the podcast.
Reporter Nigel Wrench interviewed Banksy twenty years ago when his show Banksy’s Turf War opened in London. Banksy would have been in his twenties at the time.
In the recovered interview, Banksy also talks about how he goes about producing his works which often appear overnight on the sides of buildings.
He compared creating his work to making a microwave meal.
“It’s quick. I want to get it done and dusted.”
The full identity of Banksy could become known soon enough due to a court case.
He is being sued for about $2.6 million after allegedly urging shoppers to target high street fashion store Guess.
In a since-deleted post, Banksy’s Instagram account, which has 12 million followers, used an image of a Guess shop window with the words: “Alerting all shoplifters. Please go to GUESS on Regent Street.”
Regent Street is a major retail strip in central London.
“They’ve helped themselves to my art without asking. How can it be wrong to do the same to their clothes?”
A case of libel has been filed with the UK High Court by Andrew Gallagher who has made a business out of selling images of Banksy’s work through his company Full Colour Black, the US Sun reports.
Mr Gallagher, is also brand director of Brandalised, a company which collaborates with street artists. The entrepreneur made his name by organising raves in the 1990s.
The case is part of a long-running feud between Mr Gallagher and the Banksy Collective – thought to be made up of a number of artists.
Full Colour Black claimed that the post “contained defamatory words which referred to, and were understood to refer to, the Claimant”.
Mr Gallagher is suing “The Artist known as ‘Banksy’ and Pest Control Office Limited, the body that authenticates his art”.
Full Colour Black is seeking at least £1,357,086 ($2.6m) in damages and an injunction preventing further alleged defamation.
It is unlikely Banksy will appear in court in person.
Mr Gallagher’s lawyer Aaron Wood told The Sun: “The worst thing that could happen to Banksy is if he gets unmasked by appearing in court.
“His work will change in the public’s view if everyone knows who he is and that he has a backstory.”