Skip to main content

Home Culture Culture News

A new podcast claims it may have the first recording of Banksy’s voice

A new BBC podcast series features audio footage of a supposed early interview with the artist

By Nick Reilly

Banksy's ‘Valentine’s Day Mascara’ artwork
Banksy's ‘Valentine’s Day Mascara’ artwork. CREDIT: Banksy

A new BBC podcast claims to have unearthed the voice of the anonymous street art icon Banksy, after discovering a groundbreaking recording from 18 years ago.

New ten-part BBC Sounds series The Banksy Story features a snippet from the All Things Considered news show on NPR (National Public Radio), mere days after the legendary artist hung his work within the hallowed halls of the New York Metropolitan Gallery Of Art.

In the clip, the person claiming to be Banksy is asked if they can reaffirm their identity, to which they respond: “Oh, you have no guarantee of that at all.”

He is heard to speak in a Bristolian twang, which is where Banksy is thought to originally be from.

He tells NPR that he sees himself as a “painter and decorator” and is quizzed about his habit for hanging his own works in revered institutions such as The Louvre.

Explaining how he has been reading books about Harry Houdini, he adds: “Like him I won’t go into the details but he’s got some good tips to offer artists coming up, I would say…I think it’s testament to the frame of mind most people are in when they’re in a museum really.

“Most people don’t really notice things and let the world go by… For instance in the Met, they hung a Henri Matisse painting upside down for 42 days I believe it was, until someone told them it was round the wrong way.  I was aiming for at least 42 days, but unfortunately didn’t get that far.”

He adds: “I thought some of them were quite good, that’s why I thought, you know, put them in the gallery, otherwise they’d just sit at home and no one would see them, right?

“If you wait for people to latch onto what you’re doing you’ll be waiting forever, you might as well cut out the middle man and go and stick it in yourself.”

When told that what he is doing is illegal, he responds: “That’s what makes it good fun.”

While remaining steadfastly anonymous throughout his career, speculation surrounding his identity has followed Banksy for years. It has been previously claimed that he is Robin Gunningham, an artist from Bristol. Others have claimed he could be Massive Attack musician Robert Del Naja, who previously claimed to be a close friend of the artist.

Elsewhere, last month saw Banksy unveil his first official solo exhibition for 14 years, which is being staged at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art.

The exhibition titled CUT & RUN: 25 Years Card Labour opened June 18 and features work from across the graffiti artist’s career.

The artist used original stencils to create new versions of many of his famous works including Kissing Coppers, which first appeared on a wall of the Prince Albert pub in Brighton in 2004.

Mobile Lover, which appeared in 2014 in Bristol, and shows a hugging couple who are both looking at their phone screens over the other’s shoulder, is also getting a rework for the exhibition.

Additionally, the exhibition reveals the behind-the-scenes process of how Banksy makes his art. Other exhibits at CUT & RUN: 25 Years Card Labour include the Union Flag stab vest worn by Stormzy when he headlined Glastonbury Festival in 2019, and pieces previously only seen in the West Bank including a pillow fight between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian citizen.

2009 marked the last time that Banksy put on a solo exhibition. The Banksy Versus Bristol Museum show included a burnt-out ice cream van stationed in the museum’s main entrance hall, which played out a ghostly soundtrack while ice cream melted off the van’s roof.