Banksy's ongoing, month-long New York residency has officially attracted the ire of the powers that be, but there's not a whole lot the NYPD can do to stop him: they don't know what the elusive street artist looks like any more than we do.
Earlier this week, NYPD officials admitted that they're actively searching for the scribbler, whose stencil graffiti could get him charged with vandalism. Today, Banksy cheekily thumbed his nose at his would-be captors: he posted an image of the New York Post's "GET BANKSY!" front page, writing below it, "I don't read what i believe in the papers."
In other words: he knows they're on the prowl. He also knows they're having a hard time actually finding him, as the Post reported, because they don't have much to work with:
NYPD sources said Tuesday they are actively looking for Banksy, but admitted the hunt is difficult because he has never been positively identified publicly.
“It’s kind of hard, because nobody knows what he looks like,” a law-enforcement source said of the famous British wall scribbler.
“Any interviews he does, his face is always covered.”
Err, yeah: that's sort of the point. Police authorities have taken to examining surveillance footage of locations where he's installed his daily pieces, but that also seems to be a fraught tactic, since Banksy clearly has an army of collaborators assisting with his ruse. (Over the weekend he recruited one elderly mystery man to sell Banksy originals to tourists for just $60.)
Meanwhile, as so often happens during police searches these days, engaged citizens are taking to social media to find the culprit on their own. One Twitter user, @DjJonHenry, located Banksy's warehouse and tweeted some photos that he claims include the artist, Gothamist reported today:
He believes the man on top of the truck in the hat is Banksy, but according to our in-house expert Jake Dobkin those guys on top of the truck are most certainly not Banksy. However, maybe that guy down on the ground is—he seems to match up with the previous alleged photos that have surfaced of him.
Here's the photo in question:
And did we mention Mayor Bloomberg is in on the hunt? "You running up to somebody’s property or public property and defacing it is not my definition of art," he said yesterday. But his police force's inability to track down a world-famous artist installing new street art literally every day of the month is starting to make his heavy, invasive policing strategies look goofily ineffectual.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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