King Robbo painted over Banksy
Britain’s most notorious graffiti artist may be accustomed to art world adulation but Banksy’s latest work has landed him in an old fashioned street fight.
The aerosol painter from Bristol stands accused of disrespecting a graffiti legend by modernising a 24-year-old work by “King Robbo” in Camden, North London.
On Christmas Day, a few days after Banksy’s latest spray paint spree, Robbo responded in kind by obliterating the artist’s work with 3ft high silver letters spelling out his name.
Banksy, whose real name is unknown, has become one of Britain’s most popular artists. A compendium of his work, mostly painted on the side of buildings, is the world’s bestselling art book.
Around 300,000 people also attended a Banksy exhibition in Bristol this year but not everyone appreciated his latest effort beneath on the bank of Regent’s canal.
One graffiti aficionado, calling himself Sigma, wrote a blog entry decrying the destruction of a piece of street art history.
“Now I like Banksy’s stuff and I like this but the cost is too high,” he said. “Fair enough over the years this piece got pretty dogged and ‘vandalized’ but for the most part it was still visible history… long live King Robbo.”
According to graffiti folklore this spat is not the first disagreement between Banksy and King Robbo. The 1980s pioneering vandal recounted a story in London Handstyles, a book on graffiti published in 2009, in which he claimed to have confronted the now-famous artist.
“I was out one night with a load of old writers and got introduced to Banksy,” King Robbo said. “He asked what I wrote and I told him, he cockily replied ”never heard of you” so I slapped him and said, ”You may not of heard of me but you will never forget me.’”
Banksy, whose works have sold for as much as £288,000 at auction, painted a series of images last week on walls under Camden Street Bridge, directly behind the British Transport Police building in Camden Town.
Robbo apparently took umbrage at the manipulation of his mural, accessible only by water, that had been in place since 1985. He came out of retirement four days later according to a post on the Flickr photography website.
“Down the canal in a wet suit on Christmas morning. ho ho ho,” he wrote below a picture of his artistic retribution.