Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mrs Banksy unmasked: Pictured for the first time, the elusive wife of the world's most secretive artist.

From the Daily Mail:

Working happily at her laptop, she looks like just another unremarkable young professional.

But this is the first picture of Joy Millward (I wonder if she is related to Drew Millward), the very secretive wife of the world’s most secretive artist, Banksy.

The snap was taken as Ms Millward delivered a presentation about her job as a parliamentary lobbyist.

But while she may be happy to talk about her work, she is extremely reluctant to discuss her private life – determined, it seems, to do her bit to keep the mystique of the Banksy brand alive.

For years Banksy dumbfounded the art world by keeping his identity a secret while his stencil-style ‘guerrilla’ art gained global notoriety.

As the value of his work rocketed – Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are collectors – an urban myth emerged that Banksy was a talented tearaway from an underprivileged background on an inner-city estate.

But three years ago The Mail on Sunday finally unmasked Banksy as Robin Gunningham, a former public schoolboy who grew up in middle-class suburbia. And last week we revealed that he married 31-year-old Ms Millward in Las Vegas in January 2006.

Ms Millward enjoyed a similarly comfortable upbringing to her husband in the West Midlands. She and Banksy – who is believed to be 36 – are thought to have met in London in 2003 soon before she began working as a researcher for Labour MP Austin Mitchell.

In 2005 she set up Principle Affairs, a lobby group that supports charities.

Few would guess from this picture of Ms Millward, taken at the National Hepatitis C Conference in April 2007, that she normally lives as a virtual recluse.

But sources close to the couple have revealed the lengths they go to in order to avoid attention.

One said: ‘Joy and Robin live in an isolated community and have little to do with even their closest neighbors.

‘Even those they occasionally speak to have no idea who they really are. The only people who know his real identity are those in the inner circle, who have been vetted.

‘Some of Joy’s relatives have not been told who her husband is or what he does. Joy does tell people her husband is an artist of some type. She says he does the artwork for cook books and album covers. Banksy has told people he designs the sets for award ceremonies, which explains his frequent absences.’

The Mail on Sunday has made repeated attempts to contact Ms Millward but she did not respond to our messages.

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