Is Banksy Really Holding a Meet-and-Greet in New York City in January?


Banksy, the internationally renowned graffiti artist, provocateur, and creator of Exit Through the Gift Shop whose true identity has never been revealed, will unmask himself in New York next year. At the Waldorf Astoria. And he’ll totally paint your face. That’s according to a Facebook event that has already amassed thousands of RSVPs.

There’s only one problem: That’s all news to Banksy.

The Voice reached out to the artist’s London-based spokeswoman, Jo Brooks, who said she was aware of the rumored event but added that it was merely a hoax and had “nothing at all to do with Banksy.”

The Facebook event barely disguises itself as an elaborate joke: It misspells the artist’s name, for one, and the event’s photo is of Michael Whatley, a theater administrator in Louisville who insisted by phone that he is not, in fact, Banksy. Through a spokesman, the Waldorf Astoria called the event “bogus.”

And when you reach Steven Rausch, the Facebook event’s creator, it only gets weirder. Asked via Facebook message how the Banksy event came about, Rausch told the Voice, “Well me and Bankers were hanging out, just watching Gilmore Girls…the episode where Rory is presented to the DAR, and Bling was just like, ‘Mate, I think that’s what I want to do…’ ”

Rausch said he lives in Washington, D.C., and works for a lab that does “quality assurance for bean canning companies.” He isn’t worried about what happens if thousands turn up at the Waldorf — “New York can handle it,” he said. But he bristled when informed that Banksy wants nothing to do with him.

“I would recommend you fire hose those Bangee fax codes past me first to see if that was a legitimate Bungy communiqué,” Rausch wrote. “But if it happens to be, then I got one word to say to Bangee, ‘sorry I spilled thos Beans.’ ”

Still, even if the event is merely the bored creation of a 25-year-old bean canner, it hasn’t discouraged 10,000 people from saying they will attend the January 16 “meet and greet” with the artist. And to a certain extent, that’s no surprise. Though the Voice interviewed Banksy in 2013 prior to his last (known) trip to New York, the street art cult hero is rarely represented publicly outside of his art. It is perhaps Banksy’s mysterious profile that makes the hoax so alluring — and yet so unlikely to fool its key demographic.