Is this the voice of Banksy? | Old interview rediscovered

A new BBC podcast and Radio 4 series may have rediscovered the voice of the world’s most famous anonymous artist, Banksy. 

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Part of a new show called The Banksy Story, the audio dates back to an interview only ever broadcast in the US in 2005, and has been described as “a bit of a find” by the BBC.

The clip is from an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered news show. When asked how NPR could be sure they were speaking to the real Banksy, the man speaking said: “Oh, you have no guarantee of that at all.”

Broadcast on 24 March, 2005, the interview with the purported Banksy came just days after the artist exhibited his own work in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The interview lasts three minutes. In it, the voice says he sees himself as a “painter and decorator”, who justifies infiltrating galleries such as the Met and the Louvre because: “You don’t want to get stuck in the same line of work your whole life long, do you?”

“I thought some of them were quite good, that’s why I thought: put them in a gallery,” he continues. “Otherwise they’d just stay at home and no one would see them. If you wait for other people to latch on to what you’re doing, you’d be waiting forever. You might as well cut out the middle man and just go stick it in yourself.”

Banksy adds he hoped his work would remain on display in the Met for 42 days – the same six weeks the museum supposedly once hung a work by Henri Matisse upside down.

In an exchange that shows how far the public perception of Banksy has come during that time, the NPR host challenges him: “But what you’re doing is illegal!”

Ukraine Issues Banksy Postage Stamp

Banksy’s work recently featured on a commemorative Ukrainian stamp to coincide with the first anniversary of Russia’s war with Ukraine. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“That’s what makes it good fun,” Banksy replies. “You can’t make an omelette [without breaking some eggs], can you? But it’s not in my interests to get arrested very often. It’s all about keeping going as long as you can. So, yeah, you have to think about these things. That’s the thing: mindless vandalism takes a lot more thought than most people would imagine.”

Just like NPR, 18 years before, the BBC cannot say for certain if the main in the clip is indeed Banksy, “but if it is him, it’s the first time we’ve ever heard him,” The Banksy Story declared.

Last month, Banksy’s first approved solo exhibition in 14 years opened at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art.

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