Arts

Banksy unmasked? Name of secretive street artist may have just leaked

A world-famous artist whose identity has been a mystery for decades may have just been unmasked, seemingly unwittingly, by a peer.

Goldie, an English musician, DJ and street artist, seems to have let slip the identity of the international artist-of-mystery known as Banksy. It's been rumored for years that Banksy could be a single, prolific street artist, or a conglomerate of creators using a shared moniker. In a recent podcast, however, Goldie seemed to confirm the theories that suggest Banksy is, in fact, a mortal man.

Referring to Banksy, whom he called a "brilliant artist... [who] flipped the world of art over," Goldie dropped the name "Rob." In the past, there has been speculation that Banksy may be a man named Robert Del Naja, a member of the music group Massive Attack. Some theorists believe Del Naja may simply be the leader of a group of artists working under the Banksy label. Others have suggested Banksy is actually a man named Robin Gunningham, a name that was first revealed by British media, and later seemingly supported by "scientists."

The idea of a secret identity has always been a major part of Banksy's appeal, and whoever has been behind the art Banksy creates has certainly reaped the rewards. A pair of Banksy pieces once reportedly sold for some $1 million, and original prints that were sold for a mere $60 apiece on the streets of New York City would later sell for tens of thousands when it was revealed they were authentic works. The artist has attracted a following of Hollywood celebrities, and has been featured in both a variety of art galleries, and on the tables of knock-off vendors looking to cash-in on the Banksy trend.

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While Banksy's career may have started with graffiti-based endeavors, it has achieved levels of critical and global acclaim. That’s likely due to the artist’s habit of bringing a guerilla style and likely illegal works to far-flung locations around the world.

In 2015, Banksy was said to have painted a handful of pieces in war-torn areas of Gaza. A few years earlier, he visited the Big Apple for a heavily publicized graffiti spree, even attracting the attention of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg who suggested Banksy's work was "not my definition of art."

Banksy has been known to hang original pieces in famous museums, with or without the approval of curators, and a 2010 documentary that allegedly reveals some of Banksy's in-person antics in Disneyland maintains a formidable 96% rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

While initially achieving acclaim for his politically-charged graffiti, Banksy has since become something of a performance artist.

In 2015, Banksy announced the opening of what he was calling the "Dismaland bemusement park," an actual “amusement park" in the UK that the artist converted into a twisted take on Disneyland.

In Banksy’s first major foray in the U.S. back in 2006, guests at his "Barely Legal" show in Los Angeles were infamously treated to the spectacle of a live elephant that had been spray-painted from head to toe. The show was said to have attracted celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and others, though California officials would later suggest it was illegal to use the paint "the way they had been using it."