Speculation that elusive artist Banksy’s true identity is right in front of us is mounting again. A print by Bristol artist Robin Gunningham, originally found on a cassette sleeve for a Bristol-based ska band from the 90s, has gone on sale online – it uses typeface and styles of drawing found in the anonymous artist’s early work. The piece, made for band Mother Samosa’s album Oh My God it’s Cheeky Clown in 1993, sees its auction website asking for offers over £4,000.
Robin Gunningham has been tipped as the man behind the moniker for years. This claim originally rose from a July 2008 piece by the Mail on Sunday, which claimed to have unmasked Gunningham. A photograph of him with spray cans in Jamaica was included, taken around the same time confirmed artworks by Banksy appeared on the Island. The accusation has long been denied. This at-auction work surfaced first around the time Banksy was beginning to pop up around Bristol.
Banksy’s true identity has been a prevalent topic in the art world – Goldie kicked it all off again last year when he dropped Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack’s name live on air. Works by the artist have been purchased at high prices thanks to his elusiveness and provocative, on-the-nose political approach – £361,900 for Vandalised Phone Box to £1.3 million for Keep it Spotless. Most recently, a man had been caught on camera stealing a Banksy artwork, valued at £26,000, from an exhibition in Toronto, Canada.
The Mother Samosa piece is the only known artwork credited to Robin Gunningham, making it a rare find.
Speaking to theBristol Post, the auction site’s auctioneer Jack Syer said: “What we do know is that the front cover is credited to Robin Gunningham, whose identity is up to individual interpretation, It’s a name that is widely speculated over online, but this may be the first artwork that has escaped into the public domain that can be indisputably accredited to him.”