Banksy: Famed street artist may have revealed first name in lost interview

Banksy remains a secretive figure, but a resurfaced interview from two decades ago may have slightly lifted the shroud of mystery surrounding the politically minded British street artist.

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In a lost BBC Radio interview in 2003 with reporter Nigel Wrench, Banksy was asked if his name was “Robert Banks.” The street artist replied “It’s Robbie,” the BBC reported.

The interview was released Tuesday as a bonus episode of the BBC podcast series “The Banksy Story.”

The artist’s first name has been speculated by online posters for years, with suggested names being Robbie, Robert and Robbie, according to the news organization.

This has long been the subject of speculation online, with variations of Robin, Robert and Robbie suggested.

In 2008, the Daily Mail “unmasked” Banksy as then-34-year-old Robin Gunningham, The Guardian reported. Banksy has denied the characterization.

However, a current lawsuit against Banksy could reveal his full name, according to the website.

Banksy is being sued by a company that claimed its reputation was “severely damaged” by a 2022 Instagram post, The Guardian reported.

Wrench said he found the recording in his belongings after listening to the BBC Radio series, “The Banksy Story,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

His interview with the Bristol native was conducted while the street artist’s “Turf War” exhibition was on display at a warehouse in East London, according to the newspaper.

During the interview, Banksy defended his art, which critics have called vandalism, the BBC reported.

“I’m not here to apologize for it,” the artist told Wrench. “It’s a quicker way of making your point, right?

“In the same way my mother used to cook Sunday roast every Sunday and says every Sunday, ‘it takes hours to make it, minutes to eat.’

“And these days she eats microwave meals for one and seems a lot happier. I’m kind of taking that approach to art really. I want to get it done and dusted.”

Helped by his anonymity, Banksy’s graffiti art has appeared in England and Paris. It also was seen on the walls of the Ukraine city of Borodianka that was bombed by the Russians in 2021, CNN reported.

He stunned the art world in October 2018 when his “Girl With Balloon” painting “self-destructed” after being sold for $1.8 million at a London auction, partially going through a shredder after the sale was gaveled.

In 2021, the damaged painting was resold by Sotheby’s for $25.4 million, The New York Times reported. The winning bid for “Love is in the Bin” — originally titled “Girl With Balloon” — included a buyer’s premium, according to the BBC.

Sotheby’s sold another Banksy work, “Devolved Parliament,” for $12.1 million in 2019, according to the Times.

The full interview can be heard on BBC Sounds as Radio 4′s “The Banksy Story.”

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