Criminological geographic profiling claims to reveal identity of mysterious street artist known as Banksy

// March 6th, 2016 // News

Graffiti is a crime Banksy art

British researchers at Queen Mary University of London have used high-level mathematics, criminology, and geographic profiling to suggest the true identity of the legendary street artist known as Banksy. A geographic pattern of how Banksy’s artworks were distributed suggests he is a London artist named Robin Gunningham.

The theory that Banksy is Gunningham was first suggested by the Daily Mail newspaper in 2008. The newest study backs up that assumption. Researchers used geographic profiling, a technique used to catch serial criminals, to analyze the spatial locations of 140 places where Banksy’s artworks have appeared and mapped them against “anchor points” such as homes of people suggested to be Banksy.

“The pseudonymous artist Banksy is one of the UK’s most successful contemporary artists, but his identity remains a mystery. The model takes as input the locations of these artworks, and calculates the probability of ‘offender’ residence across the study area.

Our analysis highlights areas associated with one prominent candidate (e.g., his home), supporting his identification as Banksy. More broadly, these results support previous suggestions that analysis of minor terrorism-related acts (e.g., graffiti) could be used to help locate terrorist bases before more serious incidents occur, and provides a fascinating example of the application of the model to a complex, real-world problem.”

According to a co-author of the report,

“What I thought I would do is pull out the 10 most likely suspects, evaluate all of them and not name any. But it rapidly became apparent that there is only one serious suspect.”

Is Robin Gunningham the legendary, savant graffiti artist known as “Banksy”?

In 2003, A Guardian journalist met with Banksy and described him as “white, 28, scruffy casual – jeans, T-shirt, a silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring”. This is the only true, validated sighting of Banksy.

Four years later, in 2007, a passerby familiar with his work snapped the artist and assistant painting a mural in Bethnal Green, east London.

Picture of "Banksy" painting a wall in Bethnal Green, east London

Then in 2008, The Daily Mail claimed it was this guy (Robin Gunningham).

Daily Mail claims this guy, Robin Gunningham, is Banksy

Shorty after the Daily Mail “named” Gunningham, this Banksy art appeared titled “Self Portrait” in 2009 which looked almost identical to the infamous photograph snapped by Daily Mail a year earlier.

Banksy self portrait

Then Banksy travelled to the United States.  In 2001, during Banksy’s U.S. “tour”, a picture of this guy was taken painting “This looks a bit like an elephant” on the side of a water tank – and it looks nothing like Robin Gunningham.

This guy was caught painting a water tank and was suspected to be Banksy

And in 2013, a passerby caught this guy managing the direction of a “mobile painting” in Manhattan, New York.  Once again, the man purported to be Banksy appeared totally different to the other prior sightings.

This guy was caught supervising the direction of a "mobile painting" and was thought to be Banksy

And yes, regardless of the various sightings of a half-dozen different men thought to be Banksy, and the geographic profiling pointing towards Robin Gunningham, some think *everyone* is off base and Banksy is really a woman.  Well played, Banksy.  Well played.

Sources: “Banksy”, Daily Mail, CNN, Tim Stuart, Splash News




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