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Making Banksy

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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This week, perennial favorite of dentists offices and aspiring poets, the New Yorker, devoted almost 6,500 words to the world's most famously anonymous artist, Banksy. But Lauren Collins's piece, while exhaustive in scope, failed to answer the only remaining Banksy question that really counts: Who the hell is he?

The reissue sneaker-obsessed kids over at Complex thought they had figured it out, linking on their site to photos of Banksy that Collins mentioned in her piece—until receiving a cease and desist order, that is. It would have been a coup if the photos hadn't already been published by the UK's Evening Standard in 2004. Asked why she didn't go for the gold, Collins told, "Finding out who Banksy is wasn't the goal of my piece, so I simply reported these varying viewpoints and left it at that." She added, "I don't know who Banksy is any better than you."

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Despite the desperate media search, which over the past few years has included Esquire, the New York Times, Swindle, and the Guardian, Banksy remains an unknown. It certainly hasn't hurt his bottom line, though. In fact, as the manhunt for the artist heated up, so did the selling prices of his work. After the jump, looks back on how it pays to keep a low profile.



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