He’s the Scarlet Pimpernel of the art world: but he is, just possibly, about to be unmasked. Just a few short hours from now, an Ebay auction will close, with the winning bidder reportedly buying the identity of the graffiti artist Banksy.
“If you win this auction I will mail you a piece of paper revealing the true identity of ‘Banksy’. I have uncovered his identity by matching up the prices of his sold pieces to corresponding tax records. I will reveal no more details,” says the seller.
“The winner of this auction is the only person I will ever share this information with. The piece of paper will say his name, nothing more.
I give you 100% assurance that it is most certainly the full name of the street artist known as ‘Banksy’.
Bids started modestly at $3,100, but have now reached the dizzy heights of $1 million, give or take a buck. While curiosity is a powerful emotion, it’s hard to think of any way a piece of paper with a name on it could be worth that much to anybody – except, perhaps, a rival artist who wants to shop the poor chap to the police for defacing a brick wall or, possibly, a blackmailer.
The vendor – Jaybuysthings – has already had one shot at selling the mysterious artist’s identity. But the listing was pulled by Ebay on the grounds that it was intangible – which is why the current sale is for a piece of paper with the namer on it, rather than the identity itself.
Banksy’s stencil art has a very idiosyncratic – although much-copied – style and is always subversive. There’s been much speculation about his identity, but little’s been known other than the fairly obvious fact that he was living in Bristol in the early 1990s, so presumably comes from there. In 2008, British paper the Daily Mail claimed his real name was Robin Gunningham.
The auction is here.