Banksy is a graffiti artist. Despite the popularity of his work, and despite the fact that he has released books and staged major exhibitions, Banksy's identity has remained anonymous, though there has been much speculation about who he is.
Banksy: The suggested biography.
It is believed that Banksy is originally from Yate in South Gloucestershire, close to Bristol. It is also thought that he was born around 1974 and became involved in the rising popularity of graffiti art in the 1980s.
Between 1992 and 1994, Banksy was a part of the DryBreadZ Crew
Banksy: The artwork
Banksy's work is very often a satirical look at modern life, consumerism and politics. His stenciling style recalls the work of Blek le Rat, who started graffiti work in Paris in 1981. It is also similar in its style and ethos to the work of the anarcho punk band Crass, who staged a long-term stencil campaign on the London Underground in the 1970s and '80s.
Since the meteoric rise in the value of Banksy's work, it has been known for art auctioneers to sell his street graffiti on location and then leave the removal of the work in the hands of the person who purchased it.
In July 2009, two people discovered one of Banksy's Gansta Rats graffitied in Whitechapel in East London.
When he visited Australia in 2001, Banksy met up with the reclusive visual activist James DeWeaver. Whilst he was there, he stenciled a parachuting rat over the toilets at the Arts Factory Lodge.
Banksy's first Los Angeles exhibition was entitled 'Existencilism' and was staged in a gallery owned by Frank Sosa.
Banksy's 'Turf War' show saw the artist painting on animals. It drew the attention of animal rights activist, one of whom chained herself to railings in an act of protest. The RSPCA had already stated that they did not deem the exhibition unsuitable.
In 2003, Blur used one of Banksy's pieces for the cover of their Think Tank album. Similarly, Banksy was also responsible for the cover of the Bristol band Monk and Canatella's Do Community Service.
Banksy has also been known to semi-replicate and alter well-known paintings. For example, he recreated Monet's 'Water Lily Pond', with urban litter, including a shopping trolley, floating in the pond.
At 2004's Notting Hill carnival a number of fake bank notes were thrown into the crowd, which the recipients then tried to spend in local shops. The notes were of Banksy's creation. Rather than reading Bank of England, they read Banksy of England and instead of the Queen's head, they featured that of Princess Diana. In 2007, a signed poster containing 10 of the notes sold at Bonhams for £24,000.
Banksy's 2007 'Barely Legal' exhibition in Los Angeles featured a live 'elephant in a room'. The elephant was painted pink and decorated with gold floral wallpaper.
The value of Banksy's work has continued to rise and has become hugely popular with celebrities. Christina Aguilera bought his Queen Victoria piece for £25,000. His Kate Moss paintings then went for £50,400 at Sotheby's. His Mona Lisa stencil sold for over £57,000. The highest price paid at auction so far, for a Banksy piece was £102,000. This was the price paid for his 'Bombing Middle England' piece. Some of Banksy's work can be seen in the film Children of Men, starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore. In another Clive Owen film, Shoot 'Em Up, Banksy's tag is seen in the films credits, on the side of dumpster.
Banksy replaced 500 copies of Paris Hilton's album Paris with a CD of Danger Mouse's remix work, featuring his own cover art.
There is a Banksy mural on the side of a house in Bristol. Originally, the house was on sale through regular means. However, when it became apparent that the prospective buyers wanted to remove the mural, the owners of the house decided to sell via an art gallery. It was listed as a mural with a house attached.
In June 2009, Banksy hosted an exhibition at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. More than 100 works of art were included in the show.