Few things grip the minds of the public as much as a mystery. It’s no wonder that true crime remains as popular as ever in the vast, interconnected age of the modern internet. But some mysteries, while less nefarious, grip the mind even tighter as they go against commonly withheld information. One of these mysteries is the true identity of legendarily elusive artist Banksy, and right now, thanks to a lawsuit, Banksy’s true identity is being bet on online.
Banksy has made a name for himself these past several decades through his irreverent voice and striking, duotone individuals. With his work brimming with anti-war imagery and twisted cultural mirrors, as well as a truly prankster-like spirit, it’s no surprise that he’s drawn ire over the years. But the lawsuit that some are claiming could result in the unmasking of the anonymous artist stems from a seemingly more mundane dispute—greeting card company Full Colour Black and its owner Andrew Gallagher claiming libel against Banksy from an Instagram post last year.
This back-and-forth has gone on for several years, relating to the trademark of a monkey with a sandwich board, and has seen rulings both in the favour of Full Colour Black as well as Pest Control Office Ltd., the body that authenticates Banksy’s works. Now, in this libel suit, Gallagher and co. are naming Robin Gunningham, a Bristol-based artist and the individual who has previously been pointed to as potentially being Banksy’s true identity. Additionally, Gunningham’s wife Joy Millward, a lobbyist for the Labour Party, is being named, seeming to close the target around Gunningham once again.
Despite this fervour leading to betting pools, it is unlikely that Banksy will be forced to reveal his identity in court given that his legal name is not even stated on court documents and given the precedent set for other closed cases in this feud—but it doesn’t stop the speculation. Platforms like BetOnline and BetUS have Gunningham at the top of the list of possibilities, but it includes other speculations such as Millward, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja (a purported inspiration of Banksy’s), and Gorillaz cartoonist Jamie Hewlett.
Whether or not Banksy’s true identity will be forced to come to light is still up in the air. Seemingly there will be no forced unmasking through the libel suit by Full Colour Black, but the nature of the case itself and the naming of Gunningham and Millward may accomplish that itself. But until then, Donald Trump still remains in the running for ostensible Banksy, as low as it may be.