Banksy apparently goes by “Robbie,” according to a recovered audio file from a 2003 interview with the BBC. The street artist was early in his career when former BBC arts correspondent Nigel Wrench spoke with him as part of a radio series for the artist’s Turf War exhibition in London. The recording was edited for broadcast and the name didn’t air.
Wrench asked Banksy if his name was “Robert Banks,” to which the artist replied that it was “Robbie.” Wrench remembered the 20-year-old name confession after listening to the BBC‘s podcast about Banksy this year, prompting him to revisit the original audio recording.
Guessing Banksy’s real name has become a mode of entertainment: Earlier this year, sports betting websites even placed wagers on Banky’s true identity, suggesting options as farfetched as Tom Brady and Donald Trump. But one name seemed more likely: Robert Gunningham. Fans have suspected this to be the artist’s real identity ever since a 2008 article in the British tabloid Daily Mail first made the connection, which Banksy denied. Now, a lawsuit threatens to finally unmask the mysterious muralist.
While Banksy’s notoriously facetious comments to the press could cast doubt on whether or not he was telling Wrench the truth 20 years ago, the interview is still a rare instance of Banksy’s recorded real voice. The artist used a voice modulator for the 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Banksy’s intermediary company, Pest Control, has not responded to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment.