Elusive British street artist Banksy may be forced to reveal identity in High Court case

Elusive British street artist Banksy may be forced to reveal his identity after being named in a High Court case, reports say.

According to the Daily Mail, Joy Millward is the wife of Robin Gunningham, 50, who has been named in a High Court lawsuit against “The Artist known as Banksy” as the first defendant.

Millward is originally from the West Midlands and worked as a researcher for English Labour MP Austin Mitchell. She later set up Principle Affairs, a lobby group for charities and is thought to have met Gunningham in around 2003.

They reportedly wed in Las Vegas in 2006 but are understood to keep to themselves, even amongst neighbours. One source told the Daily Mail: “Even those they occasionally speak to have no idea who they really are.

“The only people who know his real identity are those in the inner circle, who have been vetted. Some of Joy’s relatives have not been told who her husband is or what he does.”

For years, Banksy’s real identity has been an unsolved mystery amongst the press and public.

The painter’s works – often adorning the facades of houses which appear to be chosen at random – can see buildings shoot up in value, leaving their owners dumbfounded.

This Banksy mural was found in a hotel in Italy.


This Banksy mural was found in a hotel in Italy.

But this week, the anonymous artist may be forced to disclose his true identity after being named in the High Court case.

Andrew Gallagher, a rave pioneer and graffiti influencer, is suing “The Artist Known as Banksy” for defamation, while Pest Control Ltd – which sells Banksy’s artwork – is listed as a co-defendant.

Gallagher’s lawyers have reportedly refused to divulge details of the case, citing confidentiality, but the court hearing could force Banksy’s identity out into the open.

For 30 years, a list of public figures have been linked with the artist’s identity, including Massive Attack singer Robert Del Naja, Gorillaz star Jamie Hewlett and Art Attack host Neil Buchanan.

But one name stands apart from the rest – that of pop-up artist Robin Gunningham, 50 – who has largely kept his profile under the radar.

Gunningham is named as the first defendant in Gallagher’s lawsuit against Banksy.

Hailing from Banksy’s home city of Bristol, local media have in the past tried and failed to conclusively identify Gunningham as the artist.

Banksy's Shredded Painting Auctioned Off for Record $25.4 Million at Sotheby’s.

Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s

Banksy’s Shredded Painting Auctioned Off for Record $25.4 Million at Sotheby’s.

Scientists from Queen Mary University attempted to link Gunningham to graffiti which appeared in Jamaica in 2004.

Researchers honed in on a photograph showing a man in baggy clothes armed with stencils, a sketchbook and spray cans.

But the ID was far from watertight, as Banksy insisted the man in the photograph wasn’t him, as did Gunningham’s parents.

Despite this, observers noted a similarity between the man in the picture and a 1989 school photo of pupils at Bristol Cathedral School, thought to include Gunningham.

Gunningham himself has kept a strict code of silence ever since he was first associated with Banksy, as has his wife Joy Millward.

The son of contract manager Peter Gunningham and secretary Pamela Dawkin-Jones, Gunningham grew up in Bristol’s affluent area of Clifton and is said to have aspired to be an artist from a young age.


It’s cool, it’s fun, it helps “liven up” the CBD. For the most part, people in Blenheim are enjoying the Banksy-esque street art popping up around town.

Scott Nurse, a former schoolmate, described Gunningham to the Daily Mail as one of three people in his year group who were “extremely talented at art”, adding he did a lot of illustrations.

In an interview in 2006 with pop-culture magazine Swindle, Banksy said: “I came from a relatively small city in southern England. When I was about ten-years-old, a kid called 3D was painting the streets hard. I think he’d been to New York and was the first to bring spray-painting back to Bristol. I grew up seeing spray paint on the streets way before I ever saw it in a magazine or on a computer.

“3D quit painting and formed the band Massive Attack, which may have been good for him but was a big loss for the city. Graffiti was the thing we all loved at school. We did it on the bus on the way home from school. Everyone was doing it.”

Banksy’s own first exhibition was in Shoreditch in 2001, but he did not achieve mainstream success until his Turf War show a couple of years later.

He went on to create renowned pieces including The Girl with Balloon, which in a bizarre stunt was shredded at a Sotheby’s auction in London before selling for £18.6million ($25.4million).

His documentary film Exit Through The Gift Shop was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010.

And in 2015, he showcased the subversive theme park design “Dismaland” in Weston-super-Mare, filled with incongruous art pieces and which was advertised as “the unhappiest place on Earth”.

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