You may have heard by now that Urban Outfitters' favorite street artist, Banksy, was arrested in London last night on charges of vandalism. Even better, after hauling him in, police reportedly revealed Banksy's identity to the press, a huge development considering that for years everyone—including Gawker—has been doggedly speculating about who exactly is behind the world's most famous irreverent stencils and the critically lauded film Exit Through the Gift Shop. Isn't this exciting news? No, it is not, because it's all a lie.
People should have maybe smelled a scam when news of Banksy's arrest came via a press release posted on PRLOG.org, a gratis "online press release distribution and press release submission service." When's the last time police broke news of an arrest via a press release? And even if they were going to do that, why use some janky PR website instead of sending it straight to TMZ or, if we want to be very British about it, the Daily Mail? Beyond that, the police chief quoted in the release, "Wayne Leppard," appears to be a mashup of two names: London's Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard and London's Police Commander Wayne Chance. To top it all off, the press release's author listed his email address as originating here: If You Watch It Backwards, a website that describes itself as being "full of funny images, stories, pics, jokes, applets, games, pictures, photos and videos from the Internet." The author's actual address was blurred out, otherwise I'd have included it in this post.
I emailed the proprietors of IYWIB to get confirmation that their press release was, in fact, total bullshit. Ten minutes after I sent it, the Banksy story disappeared from PRLOG. The smart money says Banksy is probably not in jail, and this was all a big deception even the artist himself could love.