UPDATE: according to TEAM ROBBO and confirmed by, Robbo passed away on 31 July 2014 due to health complications. R.I.P.  

With Banksy taking over the streets of New York City during October 2013 as part of his “Better Out Than In” residency (follow it all HERE), we thought we’d look at the history of street art and graffiti in the UK.  Then we came across the Banksy vs King Robbo (street art vs graffiti) feud thanks to another story by Jack McKain.  We’d heard about this feud in passing, but never in this detail.  Sit back and enjoy…

Almost thirty years ago, in 1985, a London graffiti artist by the name of “King Robbo” threw this piece up in the Regent’s Canal tunnel in Camden. Little did he know that he would still be working on it decades later…

The below image is of the exact same piece in 2006. It had been scribbled on, tagged, and painted over to the point that the original was almost completely cover up and barely visible.

Out of nowhere came infamous London street artist Banksy in 2009. In his signature stencil style, he painted a city worker covering the now grey walls with “graffiti wallpaper.” Banksy’s style is so unique and well-known that he oftentimes doesn’t even include a tag with his work. People started buzzing all over town; this had just sparked a battle between legends.

Upon seeing Banksy’s alteration to his original piece, King Robbo was not happy. His work had not been seen in public for over a decade, yet he came out of retirement to strike back against Banksy. According to King Robbo, in an exclusive interview, “He broke a graff code of conduct and for a lawless community we have a lot of laws, so I had to come back. What people don’t realise is that he’d already gone over loads of my stuff before and I hadn’t bothered retaliating but this time it was just so deliberate, so cowardly. If you’ve got the hump about something, you send a message and discuss it like gentlemen, you don’t wipe out a piece of graffiti history. But that’s what he does, never expresses his own opinion, he puts something out and lets people fool themselves, he’s smart in that respect.”

So King Robbo struck back with the below rebuttal piece which was painted on Christmas day in 2009. King Robbo said of his piece, “it was actually pretty sloppy, I’d gone out Christmas morning, done it quickly and just thought ‘fuck it’. I didn’t even know how to post it on the Internet afterwards let alone think it would cause the fuss it did.”

The media immediately jumped on this and all of London was talking about it. The street art vs. graffiti war had begun, and was now in full force. According to legend, there was an encounter in the late 90s between King Robbo and Banksy. King Robbo claims that he ran into Banksy at a party, and Banksy “decided to get cocky and say ‘I’ve never heard of you,’ so I gave him a swift backhand and said ‘you may never have heard of me but you’ll never forget me’ and that was that.” King Robbo is convinced that Banksy’s attack on him was a deliberate retaliation for his disrespectful actions.

Banksy retaliated a few months later in 2010. The plot thickens…

Robbo made a simple edit: “Fucking Robbo” back to just “King Robbo.”

The street tunnel canvas goes black. Nobody knows why…

Ah! King Robbo is back in late 2010… This time with a serious attack on Banksy.

Black again. Perhaps the city is trying to put an end to this?

Enter Banksy with a chalk-drawn living room. Why? I guess that’s just his style.

Soon after, in April 2011, King Robbo was hospitalized and fell into a coma 5 days before his exhibition at the Signal Gallery, Shoreditch: “Team Robbo – The Sell Out Tour.” He had been found unconscious in the street with life-threatening head injuries and his health has been in question ever since. It is believed that Robbo may have fallen down the stairs and banged his head – although the incident was never investigated by police.

Upon hearing the news about King Robbo’s health, Banksy threw up “an ode to King Robbo’s original with a single, flammable spray can displayed as a vigil.” Despite the feud between them, Banksy told The Observer in a statement, “I wish Robbo a full and speedy recovery.” It’s nice to know that no matter how nasty the battle got, Banksy still is considerate of the fact that King Robbo cannot retaliate in his current state.

The mural was restored to “its original form with slight changes by the other members of ‘Team Robbo’ on December 24, 2011,” but the restoration has since peeled away to leave the black and white tribute to King Robbo as of September 2012. The battle has officially been put to rest… for now.


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  1. “From NY, to Compton, down to Austin
    She said that orifice morph into abortions without precaution
    Problem with our people, there’s too many wanna-be Jordan
    Too many forces thinking they could make a fortune scorin’
    Too many wanna-be actors instead of achieving their masters
    At least a bachelors but no, too many wanna-be rappers” yes. the lyrics of a gangnster thug. because you know. thugs encourage youth to not have sex and go to college…

  2. I still don’t understand why people put bansky on this pedestal, free hand “graffiti” is much more difficult than any stencil work. And to top it off, the stencil style was stolen from a Latino street artist known as blek le rat. He’s a cool guy I just don’t get the hysteria

      1. than tell what art is about? effect? ideas? because graffiti has saved many more lives than banksys money hunger has. there are crews in my city of Chicago that year in and year out pull children out of the turmoil of drugs and gangs and breath life into them. much more significant than hipsters on instagram liking pictures..

      2. and to top it off the style was stolen. all he does is capitalize on normal ideas. yay let me put a picture of the burger king crown ontop of a starving third world child. im genius. what effect did that have on the world?? go to a soup kitchen . real artists don’t do it for glory or money. but for love and passion. something graffiti writers have. and why they do not care about societies disapproval

    1. It is not about how difficult it is, it is about what the work and message are worth. Banksy makes people think, with good eye for things around us and humour, he makes people aware about important things.

        1. There’s literally no effort in making stencils though. You Photoshop an image, add a filter, print it off, put it on an OHP, enlarge it, cut it out then paint it in literally 5 minutes. To put it in perspective, think of how quick you can do a tag (forget about handstyles for the time being or can control) now think how quick it is to paint more or less aimlessly with a fat cap. With completely no exaggeration, a child is capable of stenciling. There’s a reason that street pieces are rare compared to stencils and it’s got nothing to do with the art hipsters thinking they’re Banksy. It’s all to do with time. It takes what? Maybe 3 hours to do a piece on average? And 5 minutes to do a stencil. I wonder which is more difficult to pull off without being caught? Of course you can add in the fact that Banksy is practically untouchable so he has much less to worry about even if he were caught. Stencils are a bike with stabilisers, real painting is driving a Yamaha R1 with both hands tied behind your back, blindfolded. It’s pretty obvious you’re absolutely clueless, go back to biting Mr Wiggles and thinking Obey isn’t a glorified decorator. Would you prefer continuing making a fool of yourself? If so please regale everyone with your knowledge or more specifically your lack of. *tips beret*

          1. I think it is you who is making fool of yourself here, you are young and you do it for adrenaline, sure, but Banksy is a street artist and he wants his work to mean something to others. It’s not a competition who paints longer, it’s about the message your art coveys. Plus he has his own style, like not every painter has to use oil paint but can use watercolor or fresco technique, so Bansky doesn’t have to do free hand graffiti. Which doesn’t mean his work is less important.

      1. I don’t believe so. I believe he capitalizes on normal fears and worries. what is profound? I myself can go outside and become ig famous . but its worthless. his messages are as complex as our normal local news..

  3. The only person i ever met from bristol wasa fellow called jamie keys ? , defo know the accent its the same as , he was a amazing fellow lived around my dealings in peterborough uk for a few months lots of fun taught me about raves and more god lad now after 20 years of squat parties and djing around i have settled and attempt a degree at sae in oxford wow impressive , all i want to do now is help kids off the streets away from a life of heroine and crack or petty crimes and in to expressive creativeness in music or a art form ! big respect banksy for showing kids how to express there creativeness lot of youths hero !
    jp wooston.

  4. Good thing you linked to the whole Banksy’s instagram account in that red-font update. It’s not like he uploads new images and the old one from October gets covered with new ones, so we don’t acually know which one you had in mind…

  5. Although from the outset, this may seem like nothing more than a petty feud, or manhood measuring contest, it’s a great way to show the artistic talent of the best of the best. It’s some great exposure that the craft badly needs

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