Geographic Profiling Backs Theory on Identity of Banksy

Robin Gunningham appears to be artist's real name
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2016 10:41 AM CST
Geographic Profiling Backs Theory on Identity of Banksy
Commuters take photos on their phones of a new artwork by British artist Banksy opposite the French Embassy in London on Jan. 25, 2016.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

His name is Robin Gunningham. That's the finding of British scientists who think they've confirmed the identity of Banksy using geographic profiling, the BBC reports. In the study published in the Journal of Spatial Science (one that was temporarily delayed by the artist's lawyers because he apparently didn't like the way the study was originally being promoted), scientists from Queen Mary University of London applied the statistical technique to map the locations of the mysterious artist's alleged works throughout London and Bristol, then matched them up to places where a short list of suspects live, work, and congregate. The Economist notes the researchers pinpointed 140 locations where artwork believed to be Banksy's appeared—including a pub, playing fields, and four different residential addresses—and those locations all matched up with Gunningham.

"What I thought I would do is pull out the 10 most likely suspects, evaluate all of them, and not name any," co-author Steven Le Comber tells the BBC. "But it rapidly became apparent that there is only one serious suspect, and everyone knows who it is." Gunningham has long been named as that "serious suspect": The Daily Mail IDed him as such back in 2008. "If you Google 'Banksy' and 'Gunningham,' you get something like 43,500 hits," Le Comber tells the BBC. Geographic profiling is most often used in criminology—tagging minor incidents that could be terrorist-based (e.g., graffiti) to stop more-severe attacks is one example—but the BBC notes it's also increasingly being used for other purposes, such as tracking infectious disease outbreaks. (Banksy's latest supposed artwork takes on the topic of refugees.)

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