Sports betting websites are taking bids on the real identity behind the iconic street artist known as Banksy — with guesses as far-flung as American actor and producer Morgan Freeman and British painter David Hockney.
Despite maintaining anonymity for over three decades now, Banksy could finally have his identity exposed in light of a lawsuit against the world-famous street artist and his art management and authentication company Pest Control Ltd. Some are convinced that Banksy’s real identity is Bristolian artist Robin Gunningham, but now, sports betting websites such as Gambling911, BetUS, and BetOnline are chiming in, offering their own absurd odds for the creator of the immediately recognizable stencil street art cropping up in different corners of the world.
Gunningham is on the list, of course, but there are some other standout guesses as well: Artists Damien Hirst, Alex Katz, Jeff Koons, and Kaws; Parliamentary lobbyist Joy Millward; former United States President Donald Trump; artist and musician Robert Del Naja, founding member of Massive Attack; and former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady are among the 50 or so names on the odds lists — each offering their own amusing imagined backstory.
On BetOnline, users can also vote on whether Andrew Gallagher, the owner of the Banksy-influenced greeting card company Full Colour Black (FCB), will win the lawsuit against the artist. In 2021, Gallagher went toe-to-toe with Banksy over the alleged re-appropriation of one of his most famous works from 2002, a chimpanzee wearing a sandwich board that says “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge,” which Pest Control Ltd. had trademarked in 2018. FCB filed to overturn Pest Control’s trademark of the chimpanzee motif in 2019, and the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) sided with the greeting card company in 2021, citing that the public nature of Banksy’s original work as well as his intentional anonymity delegitimize any trademark claims. However, the overturning was appealed in November 2022, and Banksy was again awarded the trademark for the chimpanzee piece.
That same month, Banksy ruffled feathers on social media when he directed his following to shoplift from the Guess storefront on Regent Street, London, following the clothing brand’s collaboration with Brandalised, a trademark of Gallagher’s that also sold images of Banksy’s work.
Details regarding the upcoming suit remain sparse, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from speculating on the identity of the most famous anonymous artist before the case reaches the High Court. The years-long allegation that Banksy is actually Gunningham has been revived in recent months, though FCB’s lawyer Aaron Wood told Hyperallergic that the only two defendants named in the suit are “The Artist Known as Banksy” and “Pest Control Ltd.,” stating that “there’s no naming of Robin Gunningham as Banksy.”
Among the names on the betting lists is that of Andrew Gallagher himself, which would be the craziest plot twist of them all if he was suing himself after anonymously making public art and then using it for a greeting card company. It’s a strange world, so anything is possible at this point.
None of the mentioned betting sites immediately responded to Hyperallergic‘s requests for comment.