Bethlehem, Palestine (AP) — The elusive graffiti artist, political activist, painter, film director and long time fugitive that for years has gone by the pseudonymous name of Banksy, was arrested early this morning by Palestine Police. After hours of questioning the suspect and a raid of his London art studio by police, his true name and identity have finally been revealed.
Israeli Police, working in close connection with a London Anti-Graffiti Task Force say Banksy’s real name is Paul William Horner, a 38-year old male born in Bristol, England. The BBC has confirmed this information with Banky’s PR agent Jo Brooks along with Pest Control, a website that acts as a handling service on behalf of the artist. Horner was arrested at his latest art exhibit in Bethlehem, The Walled Off Hotel, which has been open to the public since March of this year.
Horner is currently being held without bail.
London Police Chief William Edwards held a press conference to answer questions about Banksy and how Horner was finally apprehended after all these years on the run.
“We had a 24-hour Anti-Graffiti Task Force monitoring different groups where Banksy was known to frequent. We had been monitoring his newest exhibit in Palestine. We received word that around 2am a group of individuals left the area and our team went into action. This group was followed by agents and once vandalism had occurred, we then arrested the group, 5 men total. These individuals all had ID on them except for one, and that is the one we believed to be Banksy,” Chief Williams said. “We then raided the hotel where the group was last seen leaving from. Our task force, working with Palestine authorities raided Horner’s studio. Inside we found thousands of dollars of counterfeit money along with future projects of vandalism. We also found a passport and ID of a Paul Horner who matched the description of the man that we are currently holding.” Williams continued, “Horner is currently being held without bail on charges of vandalism, conspiracy, racketeering and counterfeiting. We are also holding the other four individuals whose names we are not releasing at this time. We also have reason to believe that Horner was planning to create an amusement park in the future called MericaLand which is against everything America and Donald Trump stands for.”
The graffiti artist that goes by the name Space Invader told reporters he does not agree with the arrest or outing of Banksy’s identity.
“He’s just doing art, spreading joy and making political statements the best way he knows how. That is what he was doing and I hope that is what he’ll continue to do,” Invader said. “For the Palestine and London Police to setup some 24-hour task force just to catch Banksy is ridiculous. I hope we hear plenty of noise from the good tax-paying citizens of London and Palestine about this.”
After today’s arrest it is unclear who else will be sought in connection with Banksy’s arrest. CNN spoke with Blaine Anderson who is Banksy’s project manager; Anderson says she is worried that more charges could be brought against the artist.
Paul Horner (seen here) being led away by Israeli and London Police this morning for his initial court hearing where the judge denied bail. (AP Photo/Dennis System)
Jo Brooks, a spokeswomen for Banksy tweeted her concern today about the arrest.
Donald Trump tweeted his thoughts today about Banksy’s arrest.
Banksy’s identity was long speculated to be Robin Gunningham, a man born in Bristol, England in 1973. Known for his contempt for the government in labeling graffiti as vandalism, Banksy displays his art on public walls and even goes as far as to build physical prop pieces. He does not sell his work directly; however, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder.
Local resident 47-year old Tom Downey told reporters he was disgusted when he heard news of the arrest.
“What a waste of taxpayers money. Wouldn’t it be better spent fighting the war against drugs or violence? What harm has this man done except produce beautiful thought provoking artwork? The counterfeit money thing has either been planted or its part if his art and not actual real counterfeit cash.” Downey continued, “This is just another move by the Five-Oh to crush anything good and free. People need to work out what side they’re on and if they’re on the side of beauty and freedom, they need to start fighting back. There are simply not enough heroes like Banksy to do it for you. I hope this blows up in the cops’ faces and the rest of the government as well.”
Actor Brad Pitt spoke to NBC about Banksy’s arrest.
“I love his work, I’ve bought a lot of it. Banksy is everything good about planet Earth, it’s truly a shame these close-minded, ignorant cops don’t see otherwise.”
As soon as news of the arrest was made, the City of London Police say they began receiving dozens of phone calls from people either claiming to be Banksy, or claiming to be with him. As of 6 PM London time, hundreds of people were gathered outside the London Police Department chanting “I’m Banksy!” and “Free Banksy!” holding signs demanding his release. Various local news stations have reported witnessing the crowd parting for a blind woman who attempted to turn herself into authorities claiming that she was in fact the real Banksy.
Horner, who was parking cars for the hotel when apprehended told law enforcement officials that he ‘knew of Banksy’ but was ‘not too familiar with his work,’ said he was ‘a fan of his early work when cops had less time on their hands’. The fact that Horner was parking cars is interesting because people were quoted as saying that they saw a man parking cars during Banksy’s last exhibit, Dismaland. People say he likes to associate himself with the average person and get real gut reactions from the guests viewing the artwork.
CNN spoke to a homeless man by the The Walled Off Hotel who is sad to see Banksy get arrested.
“He’s a great guy, was always friendly with me, just trying to do his thing. They gave me food and helped me out with some clothes and a place to stay. On an unrelated note, I think the aliens are keeping our consciousness trapped in dream world because they currently find our species too stupid and annoying to deal with right now. Anyway, they just need to let Banksy go, he wasn’t causing any harm. Free Banksy!”
“We need more activists like Paul Horner AKA Banksy,” former president Barack Obama told reporters from his upscale DC neighborhood in Kalorama. “We need more groups like Sock It Forward who give brand new socks to homeless people all around the world. We need more people who are doing great things like Burlington Code Academy which help young people learn to code and making the world a better place. Even the locals in Palestine have begun using Cryptocurrencies such as LITRA to bypass the non-transparent monetary system that the Federal Reserve represents. Things are moving in the right direction, but with the arrest of Banksy today, dating sites like ISISsingles.com, and racist cocksuckers like Donald Trump in charge, it just goes to show how far we as a species still have yet to go.”
Employees say that Banksy’s exhibit at the The Walled Off Hotel will remain open, ‘nothing will be effected by his arrest – this will only add to the allure of everything that is Banksy’.
Police apprehended the famous street artist while in the middle of finishing a new piece the artist was creating about a mascot for a Christian organization named Fappy The Anti-Masturbation Dolphin for his new exhibit.
“I’m just happy to be a part of this whole thing,” Fappy told CBS News. “I’m not familiar with this Banksy character, honestly if it’s not in the Bible I probably haven’t heard of it, but if this arrest spreads awareness of the harmful effects of self-rape, then that is a good thing. Hopefully news of this ordeal will bring much needed attention to the dangers and consequences of playing with your sin stick or ringing the Devil’s doorbell, especially with God sending us all these hurricanes lately because we’ve been so bad. Hopefully, God willing, one day, with the help of our Savior Donald Trump, masturbation will finally become illegal.”
Horner is currently being held without bail on charges of graffiti, public vandalism, criminal mischief, public indecency, resisting arrest, money laundering, criminal conspiracy and racketeering. More charges may follow. Anyone with more information on criminal charges that could be used against Horner, London Police, working alongside with the F.B.I. and Israeli Police have setup a 24-hour hotline at (785) 273-0325.
Pictures and Video of the Walled Off Hotel
The Walled Off Hotel by Banksy wedged up against the Israeli security wall that wraps around Bethlehem.
Outside the Walled Off Hotel.
Inside the Walled Off Hotel at one of their Banky-ish styled rooms.
One of the many rooms the Walled Off Hotel offers guests.