On Monday morning the American satire website National Report published a story claiming that British Police had apprehended the British street artist known as Banksy in the London suburb of Watford.
They claimed the man behind the pseudonym was 35-year-old Paul Horner, from Liverpool. The story was accompanied by a mug shot and claimed that Banksy was arrested on charges of “vandalism, conspiracy, racketeering and counterfeiting.”
The report quickly began circulating on social media, but, like other journalistic gems on the site such as “Obama To Auction Off All Marijuana Seized In Drug Raids Since Taking Office” and “17 Texas Kindergarteners Contract Ebola After Exposure To Liberian Foreign Exchange Student,” it turned out to be utterly false.
The story claimed that Banksy had been tracked down by a “24-hour Anti-Graffiti Task Force,” which resulted in a raid of his London studio where “thousands of dollars of counterfeit money along with future projects of vandalism” were seized.
The street artist’s publicist Jo Brooks told the Independent “The Banksy arrest is a hoax,” confirming that the story was fictional.
The story caused an outraged reaction from many commentators on social media. Twitter users strongly criticized the London’s Metropolitan Police for wasting resources on catching a street artist when there were more important crimes to investigate.
Although his work is technically illegal, the much-loved street artist has long been creating public works of art that have been vandalized (see “Artist Who Painted Over Banksy Mural Pleads Guilty on Felony Charges“) and as a result, preserved (see “Banksy Vandal Can Avoid Jail by Paying $13,000 for Restoration“). Banksy is notoriously elusive and little is known about the artist, whose true identity remains a mystery.
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