A man captured on cellphone footage as he worked on some wall art in a Herzliya shopping mall was not, as reported, the elusive British artist Banksy, but another, unconnected illustrator, the Haaretz daily said on Monday.
Earlier this week the UK’s Daily Mail published a short video by a woman who claimed to have spotted the world famous Banksy working on an art installation at an upcoming exhibition of his work.
In the footage, the man, wearing camouflage trousers and a white hat, can be seen working on preparations for the exhibit. When he notices that he is being filmed he holds up his hand to cover his face.
“I’m not what you’d call a huge fan, but I was saying to myself ‘Oh my god, it’s him. I think it’s Banksy,” the woman told the paper.
The “Art of Banksy” exhibition was opening on Tuesday in the Arena Mall in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.
However, according to the Haaretz report, the man in the video was British graffiti artist James Ame, who has lived in Israel for 10 years and is married to an Israeli woman. Ame’s work is also due to be displayed at the Arena, the report said.
Ame, who has been a graffiti artist since 1985 and is known as Ame72, declined to speak to Haaretz about the incident.
Social media users backed up the claim of mistaken identity posting pictures allegedly showing Ame wearing similar clothing on other occasions.
— Ben M (@benmooe) April 3, 2017
Banksy goes to great lengths to protect his identity, and has only been captured on video once before, in Melbourne in October.
The artist recently opened the “The Walled-Off Hotel” in Bethlehem. The hotel is only four meters (yards) from the West Bank security barrier, and all the rooms face it.
The nine rooms, which Banksy described as having the “worst view of any hotel in the world,” range from $30 for a bunk bed in one room to $965 per night for the presidential suite.
Banksy has a long history in the Palestinian territories.
In February 2015, he allegedly sneaked into the Gaza Strip through a smuggling tunnel and painted three works on the walls of Gaza homes destroyed in Israeli airstrikes during the previous year’s conflict.
In 2007, he painted a number of artworks in Bethlehem, including a young girl frisking an Israeli soldier pinned up against a wall.
In 2005, he sprayed nine stenciled images at locations along the eight-meter-high (27-foot) wall.
They included a ladder reaching over the wall, a young girl being carried over it by balloons and a window on the gray concrete showing beautiful mountains in the background.
His works, like those elsewhere in the world, have become tourist attractions.
AFP contributed to this report.