Mysterious street artist Banksy confirms first name in lost BBC interview

Valentine’s Day Mascara by Banksy (PA Archive)
Valentine’s Day Mascara by Banksy (PA Archive)

He has daubed world-famous murals on street corners for more than two decades while keeping his identity secret.

But now the mysterious graffiti artist Banksy's first name has finally been revealed in an unearthed BBC interview from 2003.

Over the years, many names have been linked to his work. The one that has received the most traction is Robin Gunningham, 50, a comparatively low-key "guerrilla" artist from Bristol.

Variations of Robin, Robert and Robbie have since been suggested among fevered speculation online.

BBC Radio 4 has now released a previously lost interview titled 'The Banksy Story,' where the artist reveals his actual name.

In the recording, Nigel Wrench, a former BBC arts correspondent, asks whether his name is "Robert Banks." The artist replies: "It's Robbie."

In the interview, Banksy also draws an analogy between his artistic method and the convenience of microwaving meals. Additionally, he advocates for the use of graffiti as a legitimate tool for creating art.

"It's quick," the Bristol artist said, adding: "I want to get it done and dusted."

"I'm not here to apologise for it," he told Mr 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."

Pressed on whether graffiti is vandalism, he advises listeners to “go out”, “trash things” and “have fun” while doing so.

"Other people, they can change it. They can get rid of it," he said.

An abridged version of the interview was initially released in July. However, upon discovering the complete interview on a minidisc at his home, Mr Wrench prompted the BBC to release the extended recording.

Having shot to prominence in the early 2000s , Banksy’s works sell for millions and he has acquired dozens of celebrity collectors including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera.

His parodies of famous paintings have included Monet's Water Lilies, modified to show litter and a shopping trolley floating in the water, which sold at Sotheby's in 2020 for £7.5million, as well as aversion of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks featuring a hooligan in Union Jack pants smashing a café window.

He is also known for his headline-grabbing stunts, such as leaving an inflatable doll dressed as a Guantanamo prisoner inside Disneyland and hanging a version of the Mona Lisa - but with a smiley face - inthe Louvre.