A week after Banksy gifted the UK with a new mural titled God bless Birmingham to highlight homelessness, his former agent, Steve Lazarides, has revealed how Banksy “gets away with it” in a new interview with The Guardian.
With Banksy’s blessing, Lazarides recently self-published a book called Banksy Captured. The book is filled with Lazerides’ photographs from the whirlwind eleven years Lazarides spent as Banksy’s partner in crime, when “we were lawless and did just what we wanted,” he says.
In the interview, Lazarides reveals several of Banksy’s secrets. When asked how they executed so many risky Street Art operations without getting caught, Lazarides says, “The secret is hi-vis jackets and traffic cones. Nobody stops you if you have them.”
Remembering another of their tricks to avoid Banksy getting caught Lazarides says, “Once I gave him a letter saying he had permission from a film producer to paint a wall. And I would be the film producer, armed with a burner phone. If I got a call, I was primed to say, ‘Sorry mate, I meant him to do the other side of the street.’”
Banksy and Lazarides have since parted ways, which Lazarides denies was a falling out, but instead tells The Guardian: “I’m bipolar and he’s obsessive. We’d gone as far as we could together.”
The pair still communicate with each other, and Lazarides remains loyal to Banksy, saying they both still have mutual respect for one another. “How do you define greatest?” Lazarides asks, “By money? No, by recognisability. And by that criterion, he is the greatest. Forget Warhol, forget everybody except Rembrandt and Van Gogh. He’s a genius.”
With media and public interest in Banksy only increasing, his identity remains a hotly contended topic. When asked the identity of the enigma many have believed to be men from Robin Gunningham to Gorillaz founder Jamie Hewlett and Massive Attack’s Robert ‘3D’ del Naja, will Lazarides finally spill the beans? “I’ll never give him up,” he replies. “It’d be like telling a four-year-old Santa doesn’t exist. If he did reveal himself, no one would believe him. They’d be like, ‘Course you are, mate, course you are.’”
Banksy’s latest artwork – which was defaced hours after it was painted, despite protective barriers – is accompanied by an atmospheric film on Instagram showing a homeless man named Ryan lying on a bench, about to be carried away by two of Banksy’s reindeer. It has been viewed over 3.5 million times since it was posted last week, showing how Banksy continues to evolve with technology to get his message across.