Banksy’s identity likely to remain secret, despite lawsuit

Artist Banksy’s work is highly recognised around the world, but the artist has long remained anonymous.

While there are many theories about who he really is, no one knows for sure. Part of Banksy’s appeal is that he remains a mysterious figure.

We know he has been active since the 1990s and it is believed he is from Bristol, in England, and that’s about it.

However, the Daily Mail claims a secretive lawsuit could finally unmask Banksy – or perhaps it has already happened.

“The Artist known as Banksy and Pest Control Office Ltd”, the only company that can authenticate Banksy’s work, are being sued by Andrew Gallagher.

Gallagher has declined to divulge why Banksy and Pest Control Office Ltd are being sued. However, he and the famed street artist do have a past.

Gallagher owns Full Colour Black, a greetings card company that Banksy once accused of “taking custody” of his art.

The Banksy artwork in Prahran, Melbourne, that was destroyed in 2012.

Banksy is arguably the best-known artist alive. Photo: Getty

“A greetings cards company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art, and attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally,” Banksy said, according to the BBC.

In 2020, Banksy lost a battle with Full Colour Black, which used one of his most recognisable pieces on a card.

Although there isn’t much information regarding the High Court lawsuit, the Daily Mail claims there is a man listed on it – which Gallagher has filed – and he is one person many think could actually be Banksy.

Artnet did manage to get a hold of the claim in question and found it stems from a social media post Banksy made and later deleted, which allegedly “contained defamatory words”.

Banksy ‘suspect’ not named

The Mail claims court documents show a man by the name of Robin Gunningham has been named as a defendant in the lawsuit. However, lawyer Aaron Wood has denied this.

“The claim we are suing Robin isn’t accurate,” Wood told Artnet.

Gunningham is from Bristol and it has been suspected for years that he could be Banksy.

The Mail on Sunday claimed to have identified Gunningham as Banksy in 2008, with one of his old school friends describing Gunningham as very artistic in his youth.

In 2016, scientists at the School of Biological and Chemical Science at Queen Mary University of London used geographic profiling to try to unmask the secretive artist. Gunningham was investigated for the research.

“The spatial locations of Banksy artworks in both London and Bristol are associated with sites linked to one prominent candidate, Robin Gunningham,” QMUL said in its research paper.


“The case hinges on a number of striking coincidences between Banksy and Robin Gunningham.

“First, both appear to have spent their early years in Bristol: Many of Banksy’s artworks can be found there, and he referred to Bristol in a 2006 interview in the magazine Swindle (Joseph, 2008).

“His first exhibition took place in Bristol in 2000. Gunningham grew up in Bristol, and attended Bristol Cathedral School, and lived in the Easton area of Bristol in the late 1990s. Banksy moved to London around 2000, as did Robin Gunningham; other evidence from associates also links Gunningham to Banksy (Joseph, 2008).”

However, the researchers noted it was difficult to make “conclusive statements”, as there are no “other serious ‘suspects'” who might be Banksy.

“However, this analysis does provide some support for [the] theory that he is Banksy,” researchers said.

As Artnet said, even with the lawsuit and given that Gallagher’s lawyer denies Gunningham is named in it, it’s likely we won’t find out who he is any time soon, because Banksy’s legal name has been left off the court documents.

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