Banksy, soon forced to reveal his identity?

Who is behind the pseudonym Banksy? This question has tormented the art world and the general public since the artist, an emblematic figure of street art, made himself known in the 1990s while maintaining his anonymity. While his true identity is still the subject of much speculation today, it could be revealed as part of a lawsuit filed against his company Pest Control, according to The Guardian.

Art collectors Nicky Katz and Ray Howse are suing Pest Control for “breach of contract.” Created by Banksy in 2008 to prevent counterfeits, the company issues a certificate of authenticity or not for Banksy works submitted to it, for the sum of 150 pounds sterling (around 175 euros). The two collectors had sent him the graffiti Monkey Queen, a representation of Queen Elizabeth II as a bejeweled monkey, which they explain having acquired for £30,000 (€35,200) in 2020 from the successors of a recently deceased Banksy collector. Wishing to confirm that the work is indeed taken from a limited edition of 750 copies of which 150 are signed, Nicky Katz and Ray Howse called on the expertise of Pest Control three years ago, without obtaining a response since.

Banksy, Monkey Queen, 2003, 49.2 x 34.5 cm, screen print on paper, ed. 750 copies. including 150 signed.

“I am very disappointed in Banksy. He has made it impossible for anyone to validate any part of his work without his certificate, which significantly affects the value of his work” deplores Nicky Katz, for whom legal action has therefore become the only option. “They have had three years to do what we paid them to do, which is more than enough by any standard.”.

In response to the accusations, Pest Control stated that their “authentication process is strong, thorough and sometimes lengthy” while recalling that they have “already issued several thousand certificates of authenticity”.

If the legal action leads to a trial, however, there is no guarantee that Banksy will attend the hearing. He did not have to appear in court when he was attacked in October 2023 by the British company Full Color Black, which was suing him for defamatory comments.

The identity of Banksy seems to have recently become clearer following the discovery of an interview with the artist dating from 2003, put online by the BBC in November 2023. To the question “is your name really Robert Banks?” »Banksy responds “it’s Robbie”. This statement was not taken at face value, however, as the artist was renowned for his irony. Many other names had been put forward until then. Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack, Jamie Hewlett from Gorillaz and the artist Robin Gunningham were notably suspected.

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