A journalist who has spent five months researching Banksy's work believes that the trip-hop legends' founder Robert Del Naja is the man behind it all.
For more than two decades, art collectors and graffiti enthusiasts alike have speculated as to the true identity (or identities) behind Banksy, the artist whose socially and politically aware murals have regularly been valued in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Since a 2008 Mail on Sunday investigation, most people believe him to be ex-Bristol Cathedral School pupil Robin Gunningham, but journalist Craig Williams claims that Banksy is actually a collective of artists led by Bristol-based musician Robert Del Naja, the founder of British electronic music group Massive Attack.
Writing for the website Glasgow Live, Williams claims that five months of research have led him to the conclusion that Del Naja, known by his stage name ‘3D’, is the real identity of the iconic street artist.
Is Massive Attack's founder Robert Del Naja really Banksy?
He claims that he has discovered at least six incidences of Banksy murals springing up in the cities across the world, just after or at the same time as Massive Attack played live gigs in those locations. Since then, Robert Del Naja's close friend, Goldie, appears to have confirmed his identity as the artist in a recent podcast [Dated June 2017]. While discussing Bristol's most famous artist, Godie uses the line: "No disrespect to Robert, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over."
This appears to fit in with Craig Williams theory that Banksy initially started out as Del Naja and now could be more than one person; he writes: “What if Banksy isn't the one person everyone thinks he is. What if - akin to the Shakespeare conspiracy theories, Banksy is a group of people who have stencilling different locations both at home and abroad? Such a rich body of work done over a decade, across the globe, may allow for the suggestion.”
“A rumour exists from 2010 that work that went up around North America was his work but were not necessarily painted by him, but rather by a street team that happened to be following the Massive Attack tour. And on analysis of his North American work, this makes perfect sense.”
Banksy rose to prominence in the late ‘90s, just as Del Naja was released Massive Attack’s third album Mezzanine, and Williams claims that the musician has effectively lived a double identity as Banksy – at least at first, with others associated with him working as graffiti taggers on his behalf more recently.
“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.”
Massive Attack's most recent release was an EP called 'Ritual Spirit' which became available in January 2016 through Virgin Records. A single titled The Spoils was released in July of 2016, in the same month the band also played British Summer Time Festival held in Hyde Park.
Updated June 22nd 2017.