Is this Banksy's voice? BBC podcast claims to have found interview with artist

Man claims to be elusive British graffiti artist in rarely heard 2005 interview with American public radio

A new BBC podcast series has unearthed a rarely heard interview with the Bristol-based street artist Banksy. PA
Powered by automated translation

A podcast claims to have unearthed what is the only known interview that features the voice of elusive British street artist Banksy.

The BBC's 10-part series Banksy Story delves into the mysterious background of the artist, whose stencils first emerged on the streets of London and Bristol in the late 1990s and early 2000s before he became an international sensation.

The rarely heard interview was recorded during a segment of All Things Considered on National Public Radio on March 24, 2005, days after a Banksy exhibition opened in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

During the three-minute clip, the interviewee claiming to be Banksy describes himself as a "painter and decorator" who enjoys eluding authorities to paint his sometimes legally dubious street artwork.

Also discussed is the graffiti artist's habit of covertly hanging his works inside the world's top museums without permission.

"I thought some of them were quite good, that's why I thought, you know, put them in the gallery, otherwise they'd just sit at home and no one would see them," he said in the clip.

"If you wait for people to latch on to what you're doing, you'll be waiting forever, you might as well cut out the middle man and go and stick it in yourself."

He claims he likes to glue his work to the walls of institutions such as the Louvre in Paris and the New York Met because "you don't want to get stuck in the same line of work your whole life long, do you?".

He is also coy about his real identity. When asked by the interview says "we assume that you are who you say you are, but how can we be sure?", he replies: "Oh, you have no guarantee of that at all.”

The potential Banksy also says his art was inspired by Harry Houdini, the magician and illusionist known for his audacious stunts that captured the imagination of America in the first half of the 20th century.

"Like him I won't go into the details but he's got some good tips to offer artists coming up, I would say.

"I think it's testament to the frame of mind most people are in when they're in a museum, really.

"Most people don't really notice things and let the world go by. For instance, in the Met they hung a Henri Matisse painting upside down for 42 days, I believe it was, until someone told them it was round the wrong way."

Speculation about the identity of Banksy has circulated for years, with several people emerging as potential candidates.

Theses include former artist Robert Del Naja, a member of the Bristol-based triphop group Massive Attack.

The theory came about after DJ Goldie supposedly let Banksy’s name slip on a podcast while discussing the street artist. He said: “No disrespect to Rob, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over.”

Other people discussed as candidates are Robin Gunningham, a privately educated schoolboy who grew up in the suburbs of Bristol.

Rumours over the years have claimed Gorillaz co-founder Jamie Hewlett is the man behind the artwork, after an anonymous forensics expert claimed paperwork reportedly showed him to be linked to every company with which Banksy has been connected.

Updated: July 17, 2023, 2:51 PM