Mystery Man Debunks Banksy Myth

( – The latest Banksy mural to appear in London caused a headache for one local builder after he was forced to deny being the internationally famous, yet anonymous, graffiti artist. George Georgiou, 67, was photographed by visitors to the painting in Finsbury Park, London, as he made preparations for covering the artwork with Perspex in order to preserve it.

His photograph was quickly circulated, with internet sleuths observing that he bore a likeness to an artist named Robin Gunningham, who some believe to be Banksy. Gunningham is a reclusive graffiti artist who hails from Bristol, a city which has seen its fair share of Banksy works, and was photographed working on a Banksy-style piece in 2008.

Speaking to reporters, Georgiou called the speculation around his identity, “nonsense” and suggested that instead of photographing him, people should have simply asked him who he was. He explained that he had taken on the job of protecting the artwork and the building it had been painted on as his son Alex owned the building.

The senior Georgiou did not seem to be impressed with the mural which appeared on Sunday, March 24, and consisted of the figure of a man with painting equipment standing underneath painted green foliage. The mural stands behind a recently pruned tree, and so the painting takes on the appearance of the tree’s missing leaves. George Georgiou said that it was “not a masterpiece”, but that he had been too busy to spend much time reflecting on its artistic qualities. Georgiou said that his time had been taken up organizing round-the-clock security and ordering over $3000 of Perspex to protect it. Despite these precautions, along with a temporary fence placed around it by the local council, the mural had already been vandalized by Wednesday.

Islington Council says that it has been working with Alex Georgiou, who says he would consider selling the building with its three tenanted apartments to a “massive Banksy fan” for the right price, to protect it and “enable everyone to enjoy the artwork”. George Georgiou, however, told the press that although the local authorities had requested the family preserve the artwork, which has already attracted visitors from around the world, they were unwilling to foot the costs to do so.

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