Watch: Banksy speculation over mystery man in a bowler hat

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It is highly unlikely Banksy would be stood out in public holding a mobile phone at the site

A mystery man in a bowler hat has been seen scoping out a famous site where the illusive artist Banksy left a mural that was inadvertently torn down by builders.

A group of builders jokingly said it could have been Banksy himself taking pictures of a site where he painted one of his most recent pieces on Thursday morning (March 16).

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The secretive man in a bowler hat, long black coat and glasses was seen taking pictures at the site of the anonymous artist’s latest work in Broomfield, near Herne Bay, Kent. Last week it emerged that the piece - which could have sold for millions - was torn down by contractors who had no idea it was a genuine Banksy.

The remains of the mural, called Morning is Broken, have since been fished out of a nearby skip. Banksy posted a picture on his Instagram on Thursday of the stencilled image on the side of the 500-year-old former farmhouse - before and after it was demolished.

And withthe arrival of the enigmatic figure at the building site on Thursday morning speculation started that it was the man himself. Sofia Akin, who witnessed the man arrive at the site and take pictures on a mobile phone, said she arrived at about 9.30am where three workmen were continuing to knock down the building.

She said: “I went to speak to them and ask for further details. Before I had the chance, a man appeared in a long black coat, bowler hat and glasses, seeming mysterious. The contractors said ‘that’s Banksy, we saw him yesterday, he was here taking a picture of the mural’.

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“They said he was with a crew yesterday before and after the mural was demolished. The men were all asking if he is Banksy, including some dog walkers that passed and he just laughed, not denying it.

“He then disappeared off but was seen taking pictures of the site.”

Despite the excitement, pictures of the mystery man have been shared with someone who claims to know the famous artist - and they expressed doubts the individual in the footage is Banksy. The elusive graffiti artist’s identity has never been officially confirmed.

In a 2003 interview with The Guardian, Banksy was described as “white, 28, scruffy casual - jeans, T-shirt, a silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring”. The journalist said he looks like a cross between Jimmy Nail, from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, and Mike Skinner of The Streets.

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Then in 2008 a picture emerged of a man in Jamaica who was said to be Banksy. The individual in the photograph was claimed to be Robin Gunningham, who grew up in Bristol. Other reports have suggested he is artist and musician Robert del Naja of Massive Attack, who is also a graffiti artist and member of the Bristol collective the Wild Bunch.

A mystery man in a bowler hat has been seen scoping out a famous site where the illusive artist Banksy left a mural that was inadvertently torn down by buildersA mystery man in a bowler hat has been seen scoping out a famous site where the illusive artist Banksy left a mural that was inadvertently torn down by builders
A mystery man in a bowler hat has been seen scoping out a famous site where the illusive artist Banksy left a mural that was inadvertently torn down by builders

In 2020 Art Attack presenter Neil Buchanan was forced to deny a bizarre conspiracy theory that he was Banksy. Whoever he is, his artworks never fail to cause a stir - and many have sold for millions of pounds.

The latest, near Herne Bay, was a silhouette of a boy and a cat pushing apart some curtains constructed from corrugated iron. Workmen at the site said they “felt sick” after finding out the stencilled image at Blacksole Farm - which has been earmarked for 67 homes - was a genuine Banksy.

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