What makes the enigmatic street writer named Banksy so amazingly popular is more than the undeniable talent (and the many PR lessons) seen in the artists campaigns. Bansky’s popularity stems, in large part, from the thoughtful social commentary that he (or she?!) puts into the work.
This picture is from 2005, when the artist went to the wall separating Israel and Palestine (and yes, that’s spray paint). Mr. Gorbachev is never around when you need him, so Banksy went to the rescue.
Everything Banksy does is pre-calculated to set the media on fire within seconds. So what would you say if he or she met a 14-year-old boy on a British train, handed the kid a signed picture, and possibly shared an androgynous first name? It may have happened. Meet Ben Azarya.
He is evidently a good-natured 14-year-old boy who was recently on a train in Oxenholme, Cumbria, England. He was seated next to someone described as “white, in his late 40s…wearing scruffy clothes and he had a black, fluffy hat that looked really old.”
The guy next to Ben dropped a few cans of spray paint from his bag (called a ‘rucksack’ in the article from the Daily Mail). Ben reached down to help the aging hipster and this exchange happened:
Do you know who Robin Banks is?
This will be worth £20,000. Have a good life, brother.
The individual then handed Ben what looks a whole lot like a signed Banksy piece. Ben did some research and the story went viral:
“He had a little jacket that didn’t go over his arms and jeans with paint on. He looked really wacky and had blonde hair and blue eyes…He was on the phone for most of the time talking to someone called AK47.”
Ben and his mother have already been in touch with Bonhams Auction House, which advised them to get the print authenticated. And now, this happened…
Sadly though, it looks like the schoolboy will be disappointed as the real artist has come forward to say it wasn’t him.
A spokeswoman for the elusive graffiti artist said: ‘It has got nothing to do with him. He doesn’t know anything about it.’
Said spokeswoman doesn’t have a name — though we assume it’s Jo Brooks — and the artist obviously values anonymity.
Still, many will choose to believe that Ben now has the signature of the world’s most popular graffiti artists. And Banksy benefits whether the story is true or not.