New evidence suggests Massive Attack member also street artist Banksy

Pic of British band Massive Attack. Robert '3D' Del Naja (left) and Grant 'Daddy G' Marshall.
Pic of British band Massive Attack. Robert '3D' Del Naja (left) and Grant 'Daddy G' Marshall.

The hunt for the true identity of Banksy took a new twist today after a member of Massive Attack was named as the artist by an investigator, the Daily Mail reports.

Robert '3D' Del Naja, the founding member of the Bristol band, has been accused of being the guerrilla graffiti star because art keeps appearing near their gigs.

In 2008 former public schoolboy Robin Gunningham was named as Banksy by the Mail on Sunday - and scientists analysing his work also believe it is him.

But now investigative journalist Craig Williams, 31, claims the artist could be Mr Del Naja, or perhaps a team of people led by him and linked to Massive Attack who combine their concerts with graffiti.

Mr Williams has plotted Banksy murals around the world and said that on at least six occasions more than a dozen appeared shortly before or after Massive Attack gigs in the same cities over the past 12 years.

3D was a graffiti artist in the 1980s and has admitted he is friends with Banksy - but the journalist's new research concludes he may be the artist himself.

His band, famous for songs Tear Drop and Unfinished Sympathy, has made millions while Banksy's art sells for at least £500,000 a piece.

A man looks at a Banksy artwork in a refugee camp in Calais. The work shows the late Steve Jobs , founder of Apple, the son of a Syrian migrant.
A man looks at a Banksy artwork in a refugee camp in Calais. The work shows the late Steve Jobs , founder of Apple, the son of a Syrian migrant.

Mr Williams said it has been the common conception was that the artist was 'plain old public school boy Robin Gunningham'.

He said: 'But what if Banksy isn't the one person everyone thinks he is. What if Banksy is a group of people who have stencilling different locations both at home and abroad? Such a rich body of work done over a decade, across the globe, may allow for the suggestion.

'A rumour exists from 2010 that his work that went up around North America was his work but were not necessarily painted by him, but rather by a street team that happened to be following the Massive Attack tour.

'And on analysis of his North American work, this makes perfect sense.'

Banksy rose to fame in the late 1990s, when his provocative stencil work started to get recognition.

At a similar time Massive Attack was releasing its seminal albums Blue Lines and Mezzanine with band member Robert Del Naja credited as being the first graffiti artist in Bristol.

According to Craig's investigation six Banksy murals were reported in San Francisco on May 1, 2010 after Massive Attack performed a two night stint in the city on April 25 and 27.

Massive Attack played Toronto a week later before more new Banksy murals were reported there.

Later on that tour Massive Attack head to Boston's Chinatown a day after a Banksy appeared there.

Similar patterns are reported in 2006 when Massive Attack embarked on a US tour, which included a slot at the Hollywood Bowl, LA, a week before Banksy's Barely Legal exhibition in the city.

In 2008 Banksy produced 14 stencils across New Orleans marking the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Del Naja co-wrote the soundtrack to the New Orleans-themed documentary Trouble the Water during the same time frame.

A famous 'Banksy' artwork is framed with a protective glass covering on the side of the Prince Albert pub in Brighton.
A famous 'Banksy' artwork is framed with a protective glass covering on the side of the Prince Albert pub in Brighton.

And in 2013, when the artist's month long residency in New York kicked off on the 1st October, the dates coincided with Massive Attack's four night residency in the city between the 28th September and the 4th October at the city's Park Avenue Armoury.

Del Naja also appeared in Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop documentary speaking about the pair's friendship from his early days in the city.

And the graffiti artist provides the foreword to book 3D and the Art of Massive Attack, which was released last year.

The band are due to play a homecoming gig in Bristol on Saturday, and Craig Williams has predicted Banksy will make a return too.

He added: 'Perhaps the assertion then that Banksy is just one person is wide of the mark, instead being a group who have, over the years, followed Massive Attack around and painted walls at their leisure'.

'And perhaps, at the head of such a group we have Del Naja. A multi-disciplined artist in front of one the seminal groups in recent British music history, doubling up as the planet's most revered street artist. Now that would be cool.

'As for the timing of the news, I believe a new mural is highly likely to appear prior to or after the concert (in Bristol).'

Del Naja has previously been asked about whether he is Banksy - but claimed he was painted on the streets for only three years before his music career took off.

He said between 1983 and 1986: 'I got arrested twice. That was enough' and described Banksy as a very close friend and 'iconic, mad and creative'.

Banksy has also distanced himself from the musician, suggesting he Mr Del Naja is too old to be him.

He said: 'When I was about 10 years old a kid called 3D was painting the streets hard; I think he'd been to New York and was the first to bring spray painting back to Bristol. Graffiti was the thing we all loved at school - we did it on the bus on the way home.'

An alternative theory: Previous research pointed to Banksy being a nice middle-class boy from Bristol who scientists believe 'became the graffiti guerrilla'

Insiders in the art world have previously claimed there is compelling evidence suggesting that the artist is former public schoolboy Robin Gunningham, from Bristol, who is believed to be in his early forties.

In March scientists at Queen Mary University of London backed a Mail on Sunday identifying Mr Gunningham as 'the only serious suspect'.

While Banksy did appear in his documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop he remained cloaked in shadow.
While Banksy did appear in his documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop he remained cloaked in shadow.

They used 'geographic profiling', a technique more often used to catch criminals or track outbreaks of disease, by plotting the locations of 192 of Banksy's presumed artworks.
But there have always been doubts.

Others have claimed Banksy is older, having been inspired by French artist Blek le Rat, who began working in 1981, which could make him at least ten years older.

The only clue until now has been a photograph taken in Jamaica 11 years ago of a man with a bag of spray cans and a stencil by his feet, who people say is Gunningham.

Banksy has admitted he disguises himself when in public and claims it is much easier and quicker to install works himself.

Appearances in public, or on film, have also been in disguise or with his face covered. Banksy says he must remain anonymous because of the often illegal nature of his art.

Robin Gunningham, who is thought to be in his late 30s or early 40s, remains the man most believed to be Banksy, although only a handful of the artist's friends know his true identity.

He was educated at the £9,240-a-year Bristol Cathedral School, which shocked some of the artist's fans who were fond of their hero's 'anti-establishment' stance.

Banksy has become renowned for his use of stencils to spray illegal images on public walls. Some councils and businesses have begun to protect his creations and his works have been sold to celebrities, including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Rumours have persisted that the artist is called Robin Banks, that he is from Bristol, and that his parents think he is a painter and decorator.

Gunningham's former school friend Scott Nurse said in 2011: 'He was one of three people in my year who were extremely talented at art. I am not at all surprised if he is Banksy.'

Records reveal Gunningham once lived with artist Luke Egan, who later exhibited with Banksy. Mr Egan initially denied knowing Gunningham but later admitted he had lived with him.

Around 2000, when Banksy moved to London, Gunningham relocated to a flat in Hackney.

A number of Banksy's most famous works have appeared nearby. At that time Gunningham lived with Jamie Eastman, who worked for the Hombre record label - which has used illustrations by Banksy.

Mr Gunningham's own parents have denied the artist was their son, although when his mother Pamela was shown the picture by the Mail on Sunday four years ago she initially denied she even had a son, let alone one called Robin, according to the paper.

- Daily Mail

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