False Banksy Sightings Are the Latest British Trend to Hit Israel

Sorry, Daily Mail: A British graffiti artist was exposed while working in an Israeli suburban mall. It just wasn't Banksy.

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James Ame in the video captured at the Herzliya mall.
James Ame in the video captured at the Herzliya mall.Credit: Screenshot

Was Banksy caught on camera on Sunday in Israel, working on another of his famous graffiti creations? The whole world was wondering – but the answer was "no." The person caught on camera was indeed a British graffiti artist, but not the notoriously elusive one known as Banksy.

In an article titled "Oh my god, it’s him," Britain's Daily Mail tabloid reported Sunday that a woman claimed to have captured Banksy in action, at the seaside Arena shopping mall in city of Herzliya, two days ahead of an exhibition the artist's work there.

Banksy himself is not connected with the show in Herzliya, located north of Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast. The exhibition is being curated by the artist's former manager, Steve Lazarides. 

But the British artist's latest project does involve Israel. He recently unveiled a hotel overlooking the West Bank security barrier, meant to draw  tourists and jobs to Bethlehem and foster dialogue between young Israelis who would stay there and the Palestinian residents of the city.

The footage shot at the Arena mall shows a man wearing a white hat and khaki trousers, working on graffiti stencils. Realizing he was being filmed, he becomes angry and covers his face.

The man turned out to be James Ame, a British graffiti artist who is married to an Israeli woman, has lived in Israel for the last 10 years and is due to show his work at the Arena.

Ame declined to speak with Haaretz.

Adi Sand, another graffiti artist who happens to know Ame and will be exhibiting together with him, says anonymity is often important to graffiti artists because of the nature of the genre.

Ame, known as Ame72, was born in Sheffield and has been a graffiti artist since 1985.