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  1. ITV Report

Who is Banksy? The graffiti artist from Bristol famous around the world

Banksy is - arguably - the world’s most famous living artist.

But even though he is prolific, and displays his work in a highly-publicised way, few people know exactly who Banksy really is.

Journalists, researchers, investigators and street artist aficionados have spent money, time and effort trying to ‘uncover’ the Bristolian graffiti artist.

His anonymity is something which is very, very important to him.

– Richard Jones, Director of Tangent Books
Banksy is known around the world for a number of different stencil-type artwork Credit: PA Images

“I often wonder what it must be like living your life anonymously. It must be so strange, going through layers of hiding your identity,” says Richard Jones, a Director of Tangent Books, which has published several books about Banksy and Bristol street art.

He added the artist went to extreme lengths to mask his identity.

“I wonder how he feels about being the most famous current artist in the world but nobody knowing who he is apart from a small group of people."

It's thought Banksy played in goal for a football team called the Easton Cowboys - they toured Mexico in 2000, and Banksy had to hand his passport in.

“You would think that as the years go by he would consider revealing his true identity but of course people tend to talk about the art rather than him," Richard says.

“Even people who thought they knew him in Bristol maybe don’t. Because very early on his flatmate assumed his identity. So even people who thought they were talking to the real Banksy weren’t.”

Thousand's flocked to Banksy's Dismaland exhibition at the Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare in 2016 Credit: PA Images

Names have been bandied around as to who Banksy's real identity is.

Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja from Massive Attack was a hugely influential street artist before he found musical fame, and continues his art to this day. Many believe it could be him.

Others think it is a man called Robin Gunningham. The name was printed years ago following a Mail on Sunday investigation. He grew up in the city, and went to Bristol Cathedral School.

According to the name plate on the recent display of ‘Devolved Parliament’ at the Bristol Museum, he was born in 1974.

Banksy at first kept his anonymity to avoid prosecution. But it is also now his marketing tool.

A famous artist who few people really know.