THE identity of street artist Banksy has never been revealed despite his worldwide fame.
But for years, he has created complex street art using the cover of darkness to keep his anonymity.
Banksy visited Port Talbot on the weekend of December 15 and 16, 2018, to paint a mural on a garage wallPA:Press Association
Who is Banksy?
Banksy is an anonymous English-based street and graffiti artist as well as a political artist.
His work has been spotted around the south of England, including London, Brighton and Bristol, although his art has often popped up in prominent international locations.
Has his identity ever been revealed?
Banksy has never been unmasked and it is believed his refusal to reveal himself started as a way of avoiding prosecution for vandalism.
The elusive artist is believed to have given a glimpse of his identity in a 2003 interview ahead of his Turf War exhibition.
The two-minute report, by ITV News correspondent Haig Gordon, features the artist speaking for 35 seconds.
He is wearing a baseball cap and has a T-shirt pulled over his lower face, but his eyes, eyebrows and forehead are visible.
“I’m disguised because you can’t really be a graffiti writer and then go public,” he tells Gordon, who has since retired.
“The two things don’t quite go together.”
Names in the frame – who is Banksy?
- Robin Gunningham was an early candidate to be “revealed” as the man behind Banksy in 2008. Years later researchers at Queen Mary University of London used “geographic profiling” to match the locations of Banksy paintings to a pub, playing fields and residential addresses with links to Gunningham. Representatives for the artist have denied the theory.
- Robert Del Naja was touted as the anonymous artist in 2017 when Bristol DJ Goldie appeared to name the Massive Attack member, a personal friend, in an interview. He said: “No disrespect to Rob, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over.”
- Liverpool pub sighting – A photo showing a man wearing a high-vis jacket appearing to start work on a painting of a giant white rat on the White Horse pub in Liverpool in 2004 sparked speculation Banksy had finally been unmasked.
- Bethlehem pictures – William Kasper, from London, believed he had unmasked the graffiti king with pictures captured in 2007. Members of the public later identified the painter as James Ame – aka Ame72 – a UK painter who lives in Israel.
- Bristol video footage – Grainy 47-second clip shows a man in a hoodie and a painter’s face mask using stencils and cardboard to spray fresh graffiti in an underpass in Bansky’s native Bristol in 2010.
- Dismaland sighting – In 2015, fans were convinced they spotted a man who they thought might look like Banksy outside his Dismaland installation in Weston-super-Mare. But to their disappointment, it was later revealed to be a parking attendant from the local council.
- A collective of artists – Another theory is that Banksy is not one person but a team of street artists. In 2016, Scottish journalist Craig Williams claimed that Del Naja was a member of the group.
- Neil Buchanan – one outlandish, and short-lived, theory was that Art Attack presenter Neil Buchanan was the secretive artist after claims were made on social media. The theory though was quickly squash by Buchanan in an unequivocal denial saying there was “no truth in the rumour”.
The artist at work at The White Horse pub in Liverpool (left) and the finished mural (right)
How did Banksy get started?
He first burst into prominence in the early 1990s as a graffiti artist in the group DryBreadZ Crew.
Banksy used his works to highlight the corruption and inequality in society with a smattering of humour.
Along with his group, they created works around Bristol.
How does Banksy make money?
Banksy is believed to make money from selling his art.
From the late 90s, reports claim Banksy had an agent, called Steve Lazarides who helped him sell his pieces.
He and his other group of artists created the website, Pictures On Walls (POW), a website that provided customers with affordable artwork.
The artist has dabbled in the world of film, releasing the “street art disaster movie” Exit Through The Gift Shop.
And in 2015 he opened Dismaland, a large scale installation in Weston-super-Mare lampooning Disneyland.
Banksy has also made money by selling his artwork at auction.
In October 2018, his artwork titled Girl With Balloon sold for £1million at Sotheby’s in London.
In 2013, Forbes said the £14million ($20million) artist did not want his art to be worth anything.
In 2018, The Richest estimated his worth as £61million ($50million).
One of Banksy’s best known works of three men wearing sunglasses and using listening devices to snoop on a telephone box near GCHQ in CheltenhamSWNS:South West News Service
What famous art has Banksy created?
Banksy has left his memorable mark all over the world but has been most prolific in the UK.
The guerrilla artist is known to have created more than 120 works spanning three decades.
- In 2002, There is Always Hope – possibly the artist’s most famous work – appeared on the South Bank in London
- Devolved Parliament, Bansky’s 13ft wide painting of chimpanzees in the House of Commons, hit the headlines in October 2019 when it sold at auction for £9.9million
- GCHQ Government Spies Telephone Box was created in April 2014. The piece in Cheltenham shows three men wearing sunglasses and using listening devices to snoop on a phone box
- In May 2020, Banksy unveiled new artwork Game Changer, which was painted on the wall of a ward at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire
- On July 14, 2020, Banksy returned to the London Underground with a work encouraging people to wear face masks. The work, called If You Don’t Mask, You Don’t Get, features a number of rats in pandemic-inspired poses, wearing face masks – but it was scrubbed off by cleaners.
- In October 2020, a Bansky mural appeared on the side of a building in Rothesay Avenue in Nottingham. The artwork shows a girl hula-hooping with a bicycle tyre. The mural has now been removed and sold to an Essex art gallery, disappointing local people who had hoped it would stay in the city.
Banksy’s coronavirus rat artwork on the TubeAP:Associated Press
What is Banksy’s net worth?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, the artist Banksy’s net worth is $50million (£39.6million).
12 years after hitting the scene, in 2002, Banksy had his first gallery exhibition in Los Angeles at the 33 1/3 Gallery.
From there, Banksy became a fixture on the art scene, with his pieces going for big prices at auction.
Popstar Christina Aguilera bought one of his works for £25,000.
In October 2019, a Banksy painting showing the British Parliament as monkeys sold at auction for $12 million.
When is the Banksy exhibition in Japan?
An exhibition of Banksy’s work had been planned for August 2020 but was delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
It is now due to open in Tokyo in the summer 2021.
The exhibition hasn’t been organised by the street artist but is expected to feature stencil works that are owned by private collectors.
Interest in Banksy’s work was fuelled in the country when a drawing bearing a resemblance to a famous Banksy painting “Umbrella rat” was spotted at a monorail station in Tokyo in January 2019.
Bansky was contacted via an Instagram account but the work has not been verified.
In a tweet, the capital’s Governor Yuriko Koike called the artwork a possible “gift to Tokyo”.
The door has now been removed and placed in storage to prevent any damage to it, officials said.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected]co.uk or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.