Graffiti Grudge Match: Banksy Versus Robbo

How do you maintain your street cred when your work is fronting auction house catalogs and selling out screenings at Sundance? Turf war! The grudge match between Bansky and the London grafitti pioneer turned shoe repairman known as Robbo wages on. Last December, Banksy appropriated (read: painted over) part of a 1985 Robbo original while creating a series of new works along London’s Regent’s Canal. This bold move prompted Robbo to come out of retirement and reclaim his realm in a Christmas morning re-tagging (above) that has fueled rival camps to show their support by scrawling “Team Banksy” or “Team Robbo” on any available surface. The street art scuffle recently made the front page of the Wall Street Journal, whose readers are apt to confuse “Banksy” with a nickname for Tim Geithner. Robbo and Banksy have never seen eye to eye, reveals Gabriele Steinhauser:

[In the mid-1990s], Robbo says he encountered Banksy, who was just surfacing, in an East London bar. After a fellow graffiti writer introduced them, Robbo says that Banksy replied, “I’ve never heard of you.” Robbo says he cuffed Banksy in the face, sending his glasses flying.

“You may not have heard of me, but you will never forget me,” Robbo says he told Banksy. The two haven’t spoken since. Banksy declined to comment on the incident.