Have we found the identity of the real Banksy? A long and detailed blog post by Scottish writer Craig Williams suggests that the elusive graffiti artist may not be a single person, but rather a group of artists – and that the mastermind of the whole operation is, in fact, Massive Attack co-founder Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja.
On the surface, the theory is ridiculous. After all, just earlier this year a dedicated scientific study by the Journal of Spatial Science concluded that Banksy was most likely to be public schoolboy Robin Gunningham, long rumoured to be the street artist’s true identity.
Yet Williams puts forward a convincing case otherwise. He points out that many of Banksy’s artworks appeared in cities around the time that Massive Attack were playing or recording there, that both have collaborated in the past, and that Del Naja – like Banksy – was once a prominent graffiti artist around Bristol too.
“When I was about 10 years old, a kid called 3D was painting the streets hard,” Banksy wrote in the foreword to the book 3D & the Art of Massive Attack, “3D quit painting and formed the band Massive Attack, which may have been a good thing for him, but was a big loss for the city.” 3D has previously described Banksy as a close friend (“iconic, mad and creative”) and appeared in the Exit Through The Gift Shop documentary.
Some of the numerous examples listed by Williams include Banksy’s stencils unveiled in New Orleans to mark the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in 2008, which coincided with the premiere of the Trouble on the Water documentary themed around New Orleans and soundtracked by Del Naja, and Banksy’s 2013 New York residency, which coincided with Massive Attack’s own four-date residency at the city’s Park Avenue Armoury.
“Perhaps the assertion then that Banksy is just one person is wide of the mark, instead being a group who have, over the years, followed Massive Attack around and painted walls at their leisure,” Williams concludes, “And perhaps, at the head of such a group we have Del Naja. A multi disciplined artist in front of one the seminal groups in recent British music history, doubling up as the planet’s most revered street artist. Now that would be cool.”
Some of the claims admittedly feel a little spurious (Massive Attack forming a few years after Banksy’s first pieces appeared doesn’t seem particularly relevant), but it’s a fun theory – read it here. Representatives for 3D did not immediately respond to requests for comment.