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Street Artist Banksy's First Name Revealed In Long-Lost Recording

22 November 2023 | 9:56 am | Jessie Lynch

The recording marks one of the few instances where Banksy's voice has been heard.

Banksy's Girl With Balloon

Banksy's Girl With Balloon (Flickr/Dominic Robinsson)

A long-lost interview with the elusive street artist known as Banksy has seemingly revealed his real first name.

The revelation comes as part of the new BBC Radio 4 series, The Banksy Story, which delves into the enigmatic artist's rise and global impact.

The interview, conducted by BBC reporter Nigel Wrench in 2003 when the artist’s show Banksy’s Turf War opened in London, marks one of the few instances where Banksy's voice has been heard. In the recording, Wrench can be heard asking Banksy if he is called "Robert Banks,” to which Banksy replied, "It's Robbie."

Wrench recently rediscovered the interview recordings while listening to the new podcast series, prompting the addition of a new episode to the show.

During the interview, Banksy also provided insight into his creative process, likening it to making a microwave meal: "It's quick. I want to get it done and dusted."

Banksy, hailing from Bristol in England's west, is renowned for his distinctive stencilled style of street art. Although some consider his work as criminal damage, it has proven to be worth millions to property owners when a Banksy piece graces the exterior of their building.

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One of the most iconic Banksy moments occurred in 2018 when his painting Girl with Balloon partially shredded itself moments after being auctioned for $2.13 million in London. Three years later, the half-shredded artwork, now titled "Love in the Bin," sold again, this time fetching a staggering $35.24 million.

While Banksy's true identity remains veiled, it appears that a court case may bring it to light in the near future.

Banksy is currently facing a lawsuit of approximately $2.6 million for allegedly encouraging shoplifters to target the high-street fashion store GUESS via social media.

The post, which has since been deleted from Banksy's Instagram account with 12 million followers, featured an image of a GUESS hop window accompanied by the words: "Alerting all shoplifters. Please go to GUESS on Regent Street."

“They’ve helped themselves to my art without asking. How can it be wrong to do the same to their clothes?

The case of libel has been filed with the UK High Court by Andrew Gallagher, who operates Full Colour Black, a company that sells images of Banksy's work.

Gallagher, also the brand director of Brandalised, a company that collaborates with street artists, has accused Banksy of making defamatory statements about him, with the lawsuit seeking at least $2.6 million in damages. Full Colour Black claimed that the post “contained defamatory words which referred to, and were understood to refer to, the Claimant”.

The lawsuit names "The Artist known as 'Banksy'" and Pest Control Office Limited, the body responsible for authenticating his art, as defendants.

Banksy's identity, long shrouded in mystery, is at the centre of this legal battle. However, it remains uncertain whether Banksy will personally appear in court.

Aaron Wood, Gallagher's lawyer, stated, "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."