One of the most enduring mysteries in the modern art world is the true identity of graffiti artist Banksy. While the world may never know the answer, legendary British DJ Goldie might have accidentally revealed the identity of the elusive artist in a recent podcast interview.
Based in England, Banksy is an anonymous graffiti artist and political activist with a reported net worth of $20 million. His work typically fetches upwards of six figures at auction and in 2008, his Keep It Spotless painting — a collaboration with Damien Hirst — sold at Sotheby’s Charity Auction for $1.7 million.
In a candid discussion with hip-hop artist Scroobius Pip on his Distraction Pieces podcast, Goldie was asked his thoughts on the commodification of graffiti art. During the exchange, Goldie told Pip, “For something like graffiti, which has inspired the world with font or anything to do with anyone wearing a baseball cap and sneakers, at its center, it is still misunderstood.
“But give me a bubble letter and put it on a T-shirt and write Banksy on it and we’re sorted. … We can sell it now.
“No disrespect to Rob, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over.”
Over the years, many theories have surfaced about Banksy’s true identity. Because Goldie linked the name “Robert” to the artist during the exchange, the Internet rumor mill pointed toward a likely candidate: Massive Attack’s front man Robert Del Naja.
In 2016, an investigative journalist claimed Banksy could be Del Naja, or possibly a team of people led by him and linked to Massive Attack. A few telling clues: Del Naja was formerly a graffiti artist, and Banksy’s work had a pattern of popping up before or after Massive Attack gigs in the same city. Del Naja denied the claims at a gig, saying, “We are all Banksy,” but like everything associated with Banksy — it’s all a big mystery.
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