Yesterday I reported on the eBay auction of Banksy’s “real identity.” The bidding had started at $3,000 and was up to almost a million before being pulled, (incidentally, a few different versions are now back online), for which the winner would receive “a piece of paper revealing the true identity of ‘Banksy’.” The part I missed, and you’ll have to excuse me, as I’m not exactly an expert on street art, is that a DailyMail profile had basically already outed him a few years ago, including the above picture, which they believe to be Banksy in Jamaica in 2004.
But now, after an exhaustive year-long investigation in which we have spoken to dozens of friends, former colleagues, enemies, flatmates and members of Banksy’s close family, The Mail on Sunday has come as close as anyone possibly can to revealing his identity.
And far from being a radical tearaway from an inner-city council estate, the man we have identified as Banksy is, perhaps all too predictably, a former public schoolboy brought up in middle-class suburbia.
Armed with this photograph, we travelled to Bristol, long said to have been Banksy’s home city, where we made contact with a man who claimed to have once met the artist in the flesh.
The man in the photograph, he insisted, was formerly known as Robin Gunningham – and it didn’t require much imagination to work out how such a name could result in the nickname Banksy. [DailyMail -- thanks to Dominic for the tip]
Uhh… am I missing an important Britishism here? I feel like I have a pretty good imagination, but I have no idea how “Robin Gunningham” becomes “Banksy”. Unless he works at a bank. “Cor bloimey, guv, da bloke’s a bloody lorrie droivah, a course da puntahs caw im ‘Chizzah’!”
Anyway, the article goes on and on about where Gunningham’s parent’s were married, where he went to school, how details of his life dovetail perfectly with what we know about Banksy, etc., and of course the subsequent denials from Banksy’s camp. Now typing “Robin Gunningham” into Wikipedia takes you straight to Banksy’s page. Which leads me to my point. This was a well-researched, easily-found article in a mainstream paper basically outing Banksy’s identity. And yet someone was willing to pay a million dollars for a scrap of paper from some random guy on eBay? A million dollars for basically another Wikipedia footnote? Forget Banksy, I want to meet the potential buyers. I have a few, uh.. business ideas I’d like to discuss. I’ve invented some pills to make your wiener bigger.