Could this be the end of the anonymous life of Banksy-British street artist -to-the-stars, darling of the underground and Angelina Jolie, and the most famous unidentified figure since Batman? We took a shot at solving the mystery ourselves a couple of months ago; but now the Daily Mail has done their own investigation, and we must say: it looks like they have him nailed. All the evidence is below-decide for yourself:
- According to the Daily Mail, Banksy is a 34-year-old Bristol native named Robin Gunningham. The paper started with the one known photo of Banksy, taken in Jamaica several years ago (pictured above), and worked its way back through his hometown and beyond in a year-long investigation.
- A neighbor in the Bristol neighborhood where Gunningham grew up ID'd the Banksy photo as him.
- Friends at Gunningham's private school in Bristol described him as a talented artist. The neighbor said he lived a "nomadic" existence that upset his parents.
- Gunningham's roommate in Bristol in 1998 was a man named Luke Egan, who went on to exhibit art with Banksy. When questioned, Egan mumbled a lot and denied knowing anything.
- The landlady of the house that Gunningham and Egan shared says Gunningham was Banksy-because when he moved out he left a bunch of graffiti work in the house, which she threw out. Earlier published accounts of Banksy's life confirm he shared a house in the neighborhood at the time.
- "Banksy moved to London around the turn of the millennium, once again at the same time as a certain Robin Gunningham. Robin lived in a flat in Kingsland Road, Hackney, East London, with Jamie Eastman, who worked for Bristol's Hombre record label. Banksy drew a number of the record company's album covers."
- Banksy's first major London show in 2003 was in a warehouse "just yards" away from where Gunningham lived.
- When the Daily Mail went to see Gunningham's parents, both denied everything, including recognizing the picture, having a son, and being themselves.
We hazarded a guess in May that Banksy could be the alter ego of Nick Walker, another already-famous street artist. In the months since, various bits of information have led me to believe that that's not true-although the possibility certainly still exists that Banksy is actually a collective of artists, or has other artists helping him with his pieces.
The evidence here is pretty strong. Strangely, the paper couldn't track down Gunningham himself. But it's only a matter of time now. The Daily Mail tries to make an issue of the fact that Banksy grew up as a suburban schoolboy, but I don't think that's surprising at all; his art is pretty obviously a reaction against middle class mores.
Banksy, you'll always be cool to me. Even if your name is "Robin."