Love him or hate him, British street artist Banksy has done a bang-up job at remaining anonymous in this day and age, in which nearly everyone can be traced to some kind of technology. And it’s technology that may have finally pinpointed the identity of one of the most famous artists in the world.
This is still speculation, of course, but ArtNet has reported a study that utilized geographic profiling — the same kind of thing used to track down very serious criminals — in order to track down the real Banksy. The study, which was conducted at London’s Queen Mary University, focused on 140 works that were attributed to Banksy in Bristol and London, and then determined from the locations of those works that the artist worked in certain “hot spots.” Once those hot spots were narrowed down to specific addresses, which included a pub and a residence, the researchers were able to determine that all of these places were frequented by one man:
If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because, back in 2008, UK papers were convinced Robin Gunningham was the name of Banksy — if Banksy were, in fact, a single person rather than a collective of artists. The Daily Mail, bastion of journalistic integrity that it is, actually cataloged Gunningham’s entire life in a story from July of that year.
So, is Banksy really Robin Gunningham? We’ll never know, of course, unless he’s caught in the art of tagging, or unless Banksy comes out and publicly declares that as his identity. But the scientists who conducted the study don’t even care.
“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,” the report states.