In 2008 the Mail on Sunday thought it had cracked the case of Banksy’s identity, publishing an investigative piece that pointed towards Bristolian public schoolboy Robin Gunningham as the man behind the guerrilla graffiti artists’ mask.
This theory was later supported by scientists from Queen Mary University of London who used geographic profiling to label Gunningham as “the only serious suspect”.
But now another journalist, Craig Williams, has built up another compelling case that Banksy is actually a group of people working together led by Massive Attack member Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja.
Del Naja was a known graffiti artist in the 1980s and has previously admitted to being close friends with Banksy, including in Banksy-directed film Exit Through The Gift Shop, but Williams believes the connection is even closer to home.
The basis of the theory is built from a number of Banksy’s murals and installations appearing in cities in which Massive Attack have recently toured in. Dating back to Banksy and Massive Attack’s formative years in Bristol, the trail can be traced across the globe.
In 2003, Massive Attack passed through Melbourne in March, with Banksy artwork then appearing in the city in April. In 2006 a full Banksy exhibition took place in Los Angeles in the weeks after Massive Attack played a gig in the Hollywood Bowl.
Another string to the theory’s bow is 14 stencils appearing in New Orleans in 2008, during the same time that Del Naja co-wrote the soundtrack for a New Orlean-focused documentary Trouble the Water.
2010 brings the most convincing evidence. While Massive Attack toured North America, multiple discoveries of Banksy artwork were made in San Francisco, New Orleans and Toronto days after the group played in each city.
Banksy also wrote the foreword to the 3D and the Art of Massive Attack book which was published last year.
Speaking about his findings, Williams said: “What if Banksy isn't the one person everyone thinks he is. What if Banksy is a group of people who have been stencilling different locations both at home and abroad? Such a rich body of work done over a decade, across the globe, may allow for the suggestion.
“A rumour exists from 2010 that his work that went up around North America was his work but were not necessarily painted by him, but rather by a street team that happened to be following the Massive Attack tour. And on analysis of his North American work, this makes perfect sense.
"Perhaps the assertion then that Banksy is just one person is wide of the mark, instead being a group who have, over the years, followed Massive Attack around and painted walls at their leisure
"And perhaps, at the head of such a group we have Del Naja. A multi-disciplined artist in front of one the seminal groups in recent British music history, doubling up as the planet's most revered street artist. Now that would be cool.”
Massive Attack are due to play a huge homecoming show in Bristol tomorrow, September 3, and Williams has stated: “I believe a new mural is highly likely to appear prior to or after the concert.” We're waiting in anticipation to see if his prediction is correct.
[Via: Daily Mail]
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter