For years, people have speculated who the England-based graffiti artist Banksy could be. Banksy has remained anonymous since the beginning of their art career, which began in Bristol in the early ‘90s. But, we may now know who Banksy is because of a (perhaps intentional) slip of the tongue.
Like Banksy, English DJ Goldie started his career as a graffiti artist, though he began in the late ‘80s. He then transitioned into music in the early ‘90s and became a prominent drum and bass DJ and producer. He was recently interviewed on a podcast and may have revealed Banksy’s true identity.
“Give me a bubble letter and put it on a T-shirt and write ‘Banksy’ on it and we’re sorted. We can sell it now,” Goldie said on the podcast. “No disrespect to Robert, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over.”
So, Banksy’s real name is Robert? This immediately made people think that Goldie was referring to Robert Del Naja, Goldie’s friend and the founding member of the trip-hop group Massive Attack. There’s a lot of evidence to show that Del Naja could actually be Banksy.
Massive Attack was formed out of Bristol in 1987 by Andrew “Mushroom” Vowels, Grant “Daddy G” Marshall and Robert Del Naja. At the time the group was formed Del Naja was an up-and-coming graffiti artist known as 3D. Hmm…coincidence?
Goldie and Del Naja have known each other for decades. They both ran in the same circles of artists and musicians in Bristol in the 1980s. In the ‘80s, Goldie and Del Naja also took part in the largest British graffiti battle, which took place in Bristol. Bristol is where Banksy first gained prominence.
This isn’t the first-time people have speculated that Robert Del Naja was the mysterious Banksy. In 2016, investigative reporter Craig Williams concluded that Banksy was actually Del Naja after a five-month long investigation. Some of his evidence included the correlation between Massive Attack shows in certain areas and the appearance of Banksy murals shortly before or after the concert. For example, six Banksy murals popped up in San Francisco on May 1, 2010 right after Massive Attack performed on April 25 and April 27.
After Williams article came out, Del Naja denied his claims.
“It would be a good story but sadly not true,” Del Naja said. “Wishful thinking, I think. He is a mate as well, he’s been to some of the gigs. It’s purely a matter of logistics and coincidence, nothing more than that.”
But Del Naja could easily be attempting to throw people off the scent by denying William’s claims. There is a good amount of evidence that Del Naja could be Banksy. For example, there are a lot of similarities between Banksy and Del Naja’s art. Del Naja’s graffiti stencil art has been featured on every one of the massive attack album covers, and bears a resemblance to Banky’s work. Banksy is also a stencil graffiti artist, and Robert Del Naja has been credited as being the first graffiti artist in Bristol.
Banksy himself has said that he was inspired by 3D, which was Robert’s old graffiti name. In an old interview, Banksy was asked if his work ripped off Blek le Rat, a French stencil graffiti artist. Banksy responded, “No I copied 3D from Massive Attack. He can actually draw.” That could be Del Naja just tooting his own horn.
Both Del Naja and Banksy have a strong connection to Bristol. Del Naja was born in Bristol and as was mentioned earlier, was considered to be Bristol’s first graffiti artist. While it isn’t known for sure where Banksy was born, his career as a graffiti artist began in Bristol as well.
In 2010, Robert Del Naja made an appearance in Banksy’s documentary film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Later, Banksy wrote the intro to Del Naja’s book, 3D & the Art of Massive Attack. It could be that Del Naja just appeared in his own documentary and wrote the intro to his own book.
A lot of people still think that Banksy is the man in the above photo, Robin Gunningham. Criminologists at London’s Queen Mary University used “geographic profiling” to identify the graffiti artist. This technique is used to identify criminal repeat offenders.
There is a lot of evidence that Del Naja could be Banksy. It might all be coincidental, but there just seems to be so many connections between the two artists. Also, let’s remember that Goldie did say “Robert,” and given all those connections, what other Robert could it be? But then again, this could just be an elaborate prank to mess with all our minds. Maybe one day we will know for sure.