23 Key Facts You Need To Know About Banksy

The low-down on the elusive Bristol artist.

1. He was behind a famous hoax in 2004, where Photoshopped copies of Paris Hilton’s album were distributed in HMV shops.

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2. The same year, he created and distributed fake £10 notes.

3. Damien Hirst owns some of his work. As does Christina Aguilera and Angelina Jolie.

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4. This piece was commissioned by Bono.

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The piece commissioned by The Independent when Bono was guest-editor.

5. He’s from Bristol and his iconic stencil style was inspired by a fellow Bristolian.

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Banksy says he was inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of Massive Attack.

6. Though he initially drew freehand, he began stencilling seriously in 2001. This piece is from 2002.

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Banksy began his career in the early 90s, as one of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew.

7. He has had 6 exhibitions since 2002.

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Existencilism, 2002, LA. Turf War, 2003, London. Barely Legal, LA, 2006. Village Pet Store And Charcoal Grill, 2008, New York. The Cans Festival, 2008 London. Banksy vs Bristol Museum, 2009, Bristol.

8. The highest ever price for a Banksy work at auction was over £102,000 for his piece “Bombing Middle England”.

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9. You can see Banksy artworks in the background of Children of Men.

10. Sometimes he edits his own paintings.

For example, he repainted “Ozone Angel” in tribute to a fellow UK graffiti artist who was hit by a train. He left a note on his website explaining: “The last time I hit this spot I painted a crap picture of two men in banana costumes waving hand guns. A few weeks later a writer called Ozone completely dogged it and then wrote ‘If it’s better next time I’ll leave it’ in the bottom corner. When we lost Ozone we lost a fearless graffiti writer and as it turns out a pretty perceptive art critic. Ozone – rest in peace.”

11. He visited New Orleans in August 2008, marking the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

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But some of the pieces are now gone. Banksy told Time Out: “In New Orleans I painted on a dilapidated shop in a street littered with abandoned cars and rotting mattresses, then two hours later the piece was gone. It turned out I’d picked the side of a crack house and the proprietor didn’t like the attention.”

12. He also painted several pieces in Bethlehem and the West Bank.

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13. He designed the cover of Blur’s Think Tank.

14. He was nominated for an Oscar for his 2010 documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop.

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Banksy released a statement about the nomination saying: “This is a big surprise… I don’t agree with the concept of award ceremonies, but I’m prepared to make an exception for the ones I’m nominated for. The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me.”

15. He illustrated the opening credits to The Simpsons in 2010.

You can see his original storyboard here.

16. He designed idents for Nickelodeon in 2005.

17. In 2007, a photo purporting to be of Banksy was released.

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Banksy told Time Out “It’s in my interest not to comment on any of the photos doing the rounds.”

18. Simon Hattenstone from The Guardian interviewed Banksy face to face in 2003.

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He described him as: “white, 28, scruffy casual - jeans, T-shirt, a silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring. He looks like a cross between Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner of the Streets”

19. He’s conflicted about his success.

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Banksy told the Village Voice, “There’s no way round it - commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist.We’re not supposed to be embraced in that way. When you look at how society rewards so many of the wrong people, it’s hard not to view financial reimbursement as a badge of self-serving mediocrity.”

20. He is planning a return to sculpture.

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Banksy told the Village Voice, that he has “been learning to make big sculptures out of clay—partly because it’s a challenge and partly because after a year in an editing studio I wanted to do something standing up.”

21. 27 Banksy works to date have been destroyed or damaged.

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22. He is in New York for the month of October, as part of his new show Better Out Than In.

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