Search

Real identity of Banksy graffiti rival King Robbo revealed after his death

07:30 07 August 2014

The scene of the Banksy-King Robbo feud beside Regent

The scene of the Banksy-King Robbo feud beside Regent's Canal, as it looks today. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Archant

The real identity of an underground graffiti artist who had a year-long feud with stencil artist Banksy in Camden has been revealed, a week after his death.

King Robbo, whose true identity was kept secret from the public for nearly three decades, has been named as John Robertson following his death aged 45 on Thursday last week.

He had been in a vegetative state since he was found lying in the street outside his King’s Cross flat with head injuries in April 2011.

Yesterday, St Pancras Coroners’ Court, which is set to open an inquest into King Robbo’s death, confirmed his real name as John Robertson.

He made global headlines in 2009 when world-famous stencil artist Banksy defaced one of his most historic works on a wall beside 
Regent’s Canal, beneath the British Transport Police headquarters in Camden Road, Camden Town.

This led to a series of tit-for-tat overpaintings from the two artists on the wall, originally sprayed by King Robbo in 1984, over the following year.

Graffiti artist Doze, 48, a close friend and one of the founders of King Robbo’s original graffiti crew, said: “He’s probably the most prolific and respected British graffiti artist ever.

“The feud will go down as one of the most important times in modern art. Graffiti is now recognised and talked about in the art world whereas previously it was criminalised.”

King Robbo’s death was announced by his crew Team Robbo on their website last week and was followed by a tribute on Banksy’s website which read: “ROBBO WRH WD PFB – R.I.P”.

The feud with Banksy, which brought King Robbo out of retirement, became the subject of a Channel 4 documentary filmed shortly before his head injury.

Banksy publicly objected to the programme, Graffiti Wars, saying it inferred he might have had something to do with his rival’s accident, which the broadcaster denied.

King Robbo, who is survived by his three children, passed away at a neurological centre in Hertfordshire.

A fundraising auction arranged by Team Robbo in September 2011 enabled his family to move him to the centre two years ago.

It is understood he was unable to move or speak and required 24-hour care.

“I wasn’t very happy with visiting,” said Doze. “I’d rather just remember him as he was. It’s quite traumatic, when you’ve got someone you’re so close to, to see them like that.”

Following the feud with Banksy, during which King Robbo defaced a number of Banksy works across Camden, Haringey and Islington, the graffiti artist’s profile grew and he was offered his first solo exhibitions.

Days before a major Team Robbo exhibition in Shoreditch, he was put into an induced coma after being found unconscious outside his flat with head injuries.

The causes of his injuries remain unknown but police concluded there were no suspicious circumstances.

During his career, King Robbo, like Banksy, was keen to keep his identity secret because he “knew the press would love it”, according to Doze, who insists his friend was victorious in the duel with Banksy.

“Banksy probably didn’t expect the backing and the following that we got with the Team Robbo thing,” he said. “It’s gone worldwide. I just don’t think he expected Robbo to come out on top.”

He added: “Since John passed away there’s been stuff painted in Dubai, Canada and Holland. People painting things all over the world as a tribute.

“He always said, ‘This is not just about me. This is to show people who the original pioneers are and that we won’t be forgotten.’”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:50
Police were called to reports of an armed robbery

Officers discovered two men armed with a suspected firearm and a large bladed weapon in the NatWest bank

Yesterday, 15:08
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West has said she will vote down the 'Brexit bill' when it comes before Parliament

Hornsey and Wood Green’s Labour MP Catherine West has said she will vote against Brexit when the referendum bill comes before Parliament in an attempt to undo what she sees as a catastrophic decision by the nation.

Yesterday, 09:19
Harrow Crown Court (Picture: PA Images)

A letting agent who conned tenants and landlords out of more than £200,000 as part of a ‘crude fraud’ was handed a four and a half year jail sentence in a courtroom packed by victims.

Yesterday, 08:54
Gavin Brewer (l) and Stuart Meads (r). Facebook

A construction firm has been fined £550,000 for the “wholly preventable” deaths of a police officer and his musician partner who plunged to their deaths after falling through a roadside hoarding in Camden.

Sir Keir Starmer has resigned as shadow Home Office minister

Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer has become the latest politician to quit his shadow ministerial role in a mass exodus from Jeremy Corbyn’s team.

Mon, 12:34
Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer has said the government must now do its best to deliver for the country in the aftermath of the Referendum

Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer has urged the government to make the best of the shock EU Referendum result as the Conservative Party tears itself apart in the aftermath.

Mon, 10:34
The impact of Brexit is being assessed

Workers in the Square Mile are bracing for months of pain as banks and financial institutions begin the process of considering whether to slash jobs or relocate to Europe in the wake of Brexit.

Mon, 09:29
Councillor Andrew marshall

One of Camden’s most Europhile councillors will not seek re-election as a Conservative in 2018 because of his anger at how some within the party behaved during the Referendum campaign.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe