Ben Azarya helped pick up a stranger’s paints when they fell out of his bag
The man introduced himself as Robin Banks- a name linked with Banksy
Handed 14-year-old the autographed print and said it was worth £20,000
But the real Banksy has now come forward and denied it was him.
A schoolboy on a train was handed a ‘Banksy’ by a passenger claiming to be the elusive graffiti artist.
Ben Azarya was handed the signed copy of an iconic print which he was told would be worth about £20,000 after he helped a stranger pick up his paints after the fell out of his bag.
The man, on a train in Oxenholme, Cumbria, introduced himself as Robin Banks, a name that has been linked to Banksy.
He signed a print of a flower thrower, with a distinctive autograph and gave it to the helpful 14-year-old telling him to ‘have a good life’.
Ben had no idea who Banksy was until he got home and looked him up on the internet.
He said: ‘He was on the phone for most of the time talking to someone called AK47.
‘He opened his rucksack and had a gas mask and spray paints inside. He got out a piece of paper and had colours marked on it of what he had been trying out and he dropped his colours.
‘I picked them up for him and after that he started signing it in weird letters and numbers. He said ‘do you know who Robin Banks is?’.
‘I said no and he said ‘this will be worth about £20,000 – have a good life, brother’.’
Sadly though, it looks like the schoolboy will be disappointed as the real artist has come forward to say it wasn’t him.
A spokeswoman for the elusive graffiti artist said: ‘It has got nothing to do with him. He doesn’t know anything about it.’
Ben didn’t realise the significance of his encounter until he started researching Banksy.
The artist’s worldwide fame has seen prices for his work skyrocket, with his art fetching more than £1m at auction.
Intense speculation surrounds his identity.
Ben described him as: ‘White, in his late 40s. He was wearing scruffy clothes and he had a black, fluffy hat which looked really old.
‘He had a little jacket that didn’t go over his arms and jeans with paint on. He looked really wacky and had blonde hair and blue eyes.’
Ben and his mum Jan have been in touch with Bonhams Auction House, which advised them to get the print authenticated.
If the trademark print proves to be a genuine Banksy, Ben says he has no qualms about selling his work of art.
‘I will probably spend about £1,000 and get a new phone and save the rest,’ he said.
BANKSY: THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL OF MODERN ART
He’s the Scarlet Pimpernel of modern art and his true identity remains a jealously guarded secret.
His satirical street art, using his distinctive stenciling technique, often feature anti-establishment, anti-war or anti-capitalist themes.
Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.
Providing a political and social commentary, his art has since popped up on walls across the world.
A network of myths has grown up around him. That his real name is Robin Banks. That he used to be a butcher. That his parents don’t know what he does, believing him to be an unusually successful painter and decorator.
Then there’s the suggestion that Banksy is actually a collective of artists and doesn’t exist at all.
Banksy’s refusal to reveal himself may have started simply to avoid prosecution for what could be described as acts of vandalism.
However by remaining anonymous he has created an air of mystery which has helped him to become one of the most successful artists of his generation.
He has been photographed in the past but always wearing a mask or hood.
In 2008 he was reportedly ‘unmasked’ as Robin Gunningham, a former public schoolboy from Bristol with a passion for art. At the time Banksy’s agent refused to confirm or deny the story.
Banksy then wrote on his website:’I am unable to comment on who may or may not be Banksy, but anyone described as being ‘good at drawing’ doesn’t sound like Banksy to me.’
Fans had hoped he would finally reveal himself in his spoof 2010 grafitti film Exit Through The Gift Shop – he did appear in the film however he was heavily pixellated.