For years, there have been claims that the elusive British street artist known as Banksy is really a man named Robin Gunningham—but there was never enough evidence to prove it. Now, the BBC reports that scientists at the Queen Mary University of London have published a study that uses a geographical profiling to suggest that Gunningham and Banksy could be one and the same.
Biologist Steve Le Comber told BBC that the purpose of the study—titled "Tagging Banksy: Using Geographic Profiling to Investigate a Modern Art Mystery"—was to show how geoprofiling, a technique used primarily in criminology to locate concentrated areas of activity, could be used more broadly for other purposes. Using Banksy as a test was supposed to show how the technique finds matches based on the given data, which in this case included the locations of his murals in London and Bristol, as well as what the BBC says is "publicly available information" about Gunningham's addresses and locations he has frequented. "What I thought I would do is pull out the 10 most likely suspects, evaluate all of them and not name any," Le Comber said, "but it rapidly became apparent that there is only one serious suspect, and everyone knows who it is."
According to The Independent, the release of study was delayed by Banksy's lawyers, who contacted the school with "concerns over how the study ... would be promoted." Now that the study has been published, reactions to it and to the ongoing search for Banksy have been swift. "The #media just don't get it," street artist Plastic Jesus wrote on Instagram. "No one (apart from them) gives a f*** who Banksy is. His genius is in his work and not his persona. Why the witch hunt for an artist who is adding to culture, society and art."