London, England â€” The elusive graffiti artist, political activist, film director, painter and long time fugitive that for years has gone by the pseudonymous name of Banksy, was arrested early this morning by Londonâ€™s Metropolitan Police. After hours of questioning and a raid of his London art studio, his true name and identity have finally been revealed.
The City of London Police say Banksyâ€™s real name is Paul Horner, a 35-year old male born in Liverpool, England. The BBC has confirmed this information with Bankyâ€™s PR agent Jo Brooks along with Pest Control, a website that acts as a handling service on behalf of the artist.
London Police Chief Lyndon Edwards held a press conference to answer questions about Banksy and how Horner was finally apprehended after all these years on the run.
â€œWe had a 24-hour Anti-Graffiti Task Force monitoring different groups where Banksy was known to frequent. We received word that around 2am a group of individuals left a flat speculated to be one of Bankyâ€™s art studios. 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,â€ Edwards said. â€œWe then raided the studio where the group was last seen leaving from. 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.â€ Edwards continued, â€œHorner 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.â€
Horner was arrested by London Police in Watford, a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, about 17 miles northwest of central London. News of the arrest quickly prompted #FreeBanksy tweets and angry messages from people who thought that the cops should find better uses of their time.
The graffiti artist that goes by the name Space Invader told reporters he does not agree with the arrest or outing of Banksyâ€™s identity.
â€œHeâ€™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 heâ€™ll continue to do,â€ Invader said. â€œFor the 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 about this.â€
After todayâ€™s arrest it is unclear who else will be sought in connection with Banksyâ€™s arrest. CNN spoke with John Hawes who is Banksyâ€™s project manager, Hawes says he is worried that charges could be brought against him as well.
â€œIf they spent this many man-hours and brought this many charges against Banksy, I canâ€™t imagine that heâ€™ll be the only one to go down in all of this,â€ Hawes said. â€œAll the beauty Paul Horner brought to this world, unfortunately the London Police just see it as vandalism and want to lock him up. Itâ€™s such a shame.â€