Is Banksy Actually Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja?

2 minute read

Say what you will about the pseudonymous guerrilla artist Banksy, but chances are, you’ve probably wondered at one point or another who he (or she) really is.

The latest theory to gain traction: Banksy is in fact Robert Del Naja, one of the three members of the electronic hip-hop trio Massive Attack.

The theory appears to originate with the research of a 31-year-old British journalism graduate student named Craig Williams, who first presented his case in a blog post back in January. Drawing from rumors circulating in Italy, Williams noted that Banksy and Del Naja — himself a known graffiti artist — had been linked in the past, then went on to provide more compelling evidence. Banksy’s work famously crops up randomly around the world, aligned with no set schedule — except, apparently, with the schedule of Massive Attack’s tours, Williams observed.

He lists dozens of locations across the globe where the appearance of Banksy murals and Massive Attack tours seem to have coincided, including the band’s September 2006 show at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, which came a week and a half after a Banksy stunt at Disneyland, and Massive Attack’s residency in New York in the fall of 2013 coincided with the appearance of Banksy’s mural The Street Is in Play.

See Banksy’s Art From Around the World

New Banksy 'earring' mural appears in Bristol Harbourside
The new Banksy depicting the painting 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer is see on a wall in Bristol Harbourside, England on Oct. 20, 2014.Paul Green—Demotix/Corbis
Graffiti art is seen on a wall near the headquarters of Britain's eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, in Cheltenham, western England
A Banksy is seen near the headquarters of Britain's eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, in Cheltenham, England on April 16, 2014. Eddie Keogh—Reuters
Banksy - 911 Tribute in TriBeCa
Banksy's 9/11 tribute featuring the Twin Towers located at Staple Street in TriBeCa, New York City, Oct. 16, 2013. Nancy Kaszerman—Zumapress/Corbis
British Street Artist Banksy Continues His Month-Long New York City Residency
Banksy's "Waiting in the door of the club." is seen on a roll-down security gate covering the main entrance to Larry Flint's Hustler Club on October 24, 2013 in New York City. John Moore—Getty Images
Banksy: 'Better Out Than in' NY Exhibition
A Banksy depicting a silhouette of a hammer boy playing 'strong man' in the Upper West Side of new York City, October 20, 2013.Dennis Van Tine—Geisler-Fotopres/picture-alliance/dpa/AP
New Banksy, Yellow Lines Flower Painter on Pollard Street
Builders walk past a Banksy on Pollard Street on November 1, 2007 in London, England.Chris Jackson—Getty Images
General Views of Jerusalem
A Banksy wall painting seen on the apartheid wall near Bethlehem on June 16, 2013 in central West Bank, Palestine.Ian Walton—Getty Images
British Guerrilla Artist Decorates West Bank Barrier
A graffiti titled "Balloon Debate" made by Banksy is seen on Israel's highly controversial West Bank barrier in Ramallah on August 6, 2005. Marco Di Lauro—Getty Images
A Palestinian boy walks past a drawing by British graffiti artist Banksy near the Kalandia ...
A Palestinian boy walks past a work by Banksy near the Kalandia checkpoint in the West Bank on August 10, 2005. Ammar Awad—Reuters
British Guerrilla Artist Decorates West Bank Barrier
A Banksy is seen on Israel's highly controversial West Bank barrier in Abu Dis on August 6, 2005. Marco Di Lauro—Getty Images
Artwork by the artist Banksy is shown on a wall during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City
Artwork by Banksy is seen on a wall during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 22, 2010. Robert Galbraith—Reuters
Banksy Graffiti Murals Pop Up Around New Orleans, Including Levee Wall
Grafitti by Banksy adorns a building August 29, 2008 in New Orleans, La.Chris Graythen—Getty Images
A graffiti attributed to secretive Briti
A Banksy depicting a child wielding a machine gun, in black and white surrounded by colored flowers, is spotted in Westwood, Ca. on February 17, 2011. Gabriel Buoys—AFP/Getty Images
Banksy Graffiti Art On West Bank Barrier
A Palestinian laborer works under a large wall painting by Banksy on December 5, 2007 in Bethlehem in the West Bank. David Silverman—Getty Images
Banksy's 14th Piece for His New York Residency
Banksy's 'What we do in life echoes in Eternity' seen in New York City on Oct. 14, 2013.Erik Pendzich —Demotix/Corbis
Banksy In LA
Banksy's "Crayon Foreclosure," seen in Los Angeles, Ca. on February 27, 2011.Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images
Banksy Maid Artwork Appears In Camden
Banksy's 'Sweeping It Under The Carpet' is seen in London, England on May 16, 2006.Jim Dyson—Getty Images
Graffiti art is seen on a wall next to the Regent's Canal in Camden in London
A Banksy is seen on a wall next to the Regent's Canal, in Camden in London on December 22, 2009. Luke MacGregor—Reuters
Bansky Graffitti Artwork Appears In London
A Banksy appears in the neighborhood of Fitzrovia in London, England on October 6, 2011.Jim Dyson—Getty Images
Banksy Street Artwork In London
A Banksy is pictured in North London on August 20, 2012.Jim Dyson—Getty Images
New Banksy Artworks Appear In London
A Banksy is seen in East London, on December 20, 2011.Jim Dyson—Getty Images
Murals In Bristol As The Twentieth Century Society Campaign To Save The UK's Best Murals
A mural by Banksy, which has been defaced by blue paint bombs, is seen on the side of a building in Park Street on March 4, 2013 in Bristol, England.Matt Cardy—Getty Images
Britain Banksy
A screen print titled 'Di Faced Tenners' showing the face of Princess Diana in place of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is one of ten Banksy pieces on display in Bonhams Auction House in London on Monday, Oct. 22, 2007Cathal McNaughton—PA/AP
World's First Urban Art Sale
Banksy's Laugh Now is held by a Bonham's employee's during a viewing for the World's First Urban Art Auction at Bonham's on January 22, 2008 in London, England.Daniel Berehulak—Getty Images
A work entitled "Banksus Militus Vandalus" is displayed in the first unauthorized retrospective of works by British graffiti artist Banksy in London on June 6, 2014.Justin Tallis—AFP/Getty Images
Asian elephant, painted by British underground artist Banksy, is displayed at "Barely Legal" exhibition in Los Angeles
Tai, a 38-year-old Asian elephant, painted by Banksy, is displayed at the "Barely Legal" exhibition at a warehouse near downtown Los Angeles on September 15, 2006. Fred Prouser—Reuters
USA - Business - Valentine's Day (RED) Sotheby's Auction in New York City
An employee signals a phone bid on Banksy's "Vandalised Phone Box" during Sotheby's "Red" benefit auction to raise funds for HIV/AIDS treatment in Africa in New York City on Feb 14, 2008.Lucas Jackson—Reuters
Street art, East London, London, UK, 12/12/2004
A Banksy is seen in London, England on Dec. 12, 2004.PYMCA/UIG/Getty Images
Street art, East London, London, UK, 30/11/2005
A Banksy inspired by Pulp Fiction is seen in London, England on Nov. 30, 2005.PYMCA/UIG/Getty Images

More recently, however, Williams has backpedaled. In a blog post dated Aug. 28, he posits that Banksy is not one person, but rather an artistic collective — albeit one in which Del Naja could be a core member.

“I’m pretty annoyed at how this has come out as me basically saying that it’s 3D,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald, using Del Naja’s stage name. “I wanted to focus more on the idea that it’s a group of artists who share common themes, mirroring the idea suggested in Shakespeare scholarship circles — that such a large body of work was done by many hands rather than one.”


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