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A lost BBC interview with Banksy – one of the earliest known radio interviews with him – has been discovered. And with it, possibly the identity of the secret artist.

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Famous Bristol-based graffiti artist Banksy revealed his real name in a newly discovered 2003 interview.

The interview – which has never been released until now – is being shared for the first time as part of a special episode broadcast for BBC Radio 4’s The Banksy Story.

The renowned artist – who remained anonymous for decades – spoke to former BBC arts correspondent Nigel Wrench at the opening of Banksy’s 2003 Turf War show in east London.

Wrench asked if he could use Banksy’s real name in the interview, citing that the newspaper The Independent had already used it, asking the artist to confirm whether his name was Robert Banks.

“This is Robbie,” Banksy explained.

There we have it.

Or do we?

One of the most famous artists of our century rose to prominence through a series of murals that featured his satirical subjects on buildings across the country.

He has always chosen to keep his identity unknown, which is a way of allowing him to continue his art without the constraints of fame. It is an anonymity that also serves as a means of protection from police prosecution.

For years there has been speculation as to who the infamous street artist might be. The theories are numerous, but some of them seem more credible than others.

Massive Attack founder Robert del Naja, also known by his pseudonym 3D, is also a graffiti artist and has been one of the most popular Banksy candidates. The connection between the band’s concert dates and new artwork has previously intrigued fans and amateur detectives.

Other scenarios include Jamie Hewlett, co-founder of the band Gorillaz; Bristol resident Robin Gunningham; Neil Buchanan, host of several children’s art shows on British television, who was forced to issue a statement denying his involvement with the Banksy persona during the pandemic; And chances are it could be a group of artists rather than a one-man band.

But now it looks like it’s Robbie Banks.

Unless that’s a pseudonym and we’re all still none the wiser… After all, Banksy has always been incredibly careful with regards to hiding his identity, and it doesn’t seem like he should have let the mask slip. ..even though the interview took place 20 years ago and there may have been a temporary lapse.

still. ‘Rob Banks’…seems a little too neat considering the artist’s activist tendencies…

All things considered, do we really need to know Banksy’s true identity?

Solve the puzzle, and you will symbolically discover or destroy the artist’s sense of alluring elusiveness and his unpredictability. He could be anyone, and maybe that’s the point. Anonymity and mystery are two of the most important parts of the Banksy brand, and revealing his identity would also mean taking away the artist’s (or artists’) dominant mode of artistic expression.

So maybe Robbie is a nickname. And we continue to speculate that this is probably for the best.

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