It was reported widely this month that a helpful schoolboy on a train was handed a ‘Banksy’ by a passenger. It has been claimed that Ben Azarya was handed the signed copy of an iconic print which he was told would be worth about £20,000 after the schoolboy helped a stranger pick up his paints after they fell from his bag.
The mysterious individual then signed a print of a flower thrower, with a distinctive autograph and gave it to the 14-year-old schoolboy telling him to ‘have a good life’. Ben added: “He was on the phone for most of the time talking to someone called AK47. He opened his rucksack and had a gas mask and spray paints inside. He got out a piece of paper and had colours marked on it of what he had been trying out and he dropped his colours. I picked them up for him and after that he started signing it in weird letters and numbers. He said ‘do you know who Robin Banks is?’.”
Ben continued “I said no and he said ‘this will be worth about £20,000 – have a good life, brother’.”
But did Banksy really reveal his identity to a schoolboy? Now it seems that the recent reports of Bansky sightings may be thanks to an impersonator. The British graffiti artist’s publicist, Jo Brooks, told the Independent that Banksy has not been in Cumbria, the county in the UK’s Northwest, where he was allegedly spotted twice this month.
About a week after the schoolboy thought he had met the acclaimed street artist, a man claiming to be Robin Banks admired some graffiti-style artwork in the restaurant Wild Zucchinis, calling it “funky.” It is reported that both men fit Banksy’s presumed profile of a white man in his late 40s with a refined British accent. Nevertheless, Brooks insisted to the Independent that “it isn’t true. I don’t know where it has come from, it is really strange.”
There have been numerous occasions when the art world has thought it has discovered the identity of Banksy, only to realise it is yet another hoax. Last year, it was widely reported that the anonymous street artist had been arrested and unmasked, this proved to be yet another story that was soon proven to be a fabrication from a satirical publication. Will we ever know who Banksy is? and what of the schoolboy’s gift? is it real or fake?