ITALY’S “BANKSY” FINALLY CAUGHT AFTER AN 18 MONTH MANHUNT
The Italian artist’s work spanned across countless Romans subway stations, bridges, buildings, and parks.
After an 18 – month search, the identity of the elusive graffiti artist who tagged various Roman subway stations, bridges, abandoned buildings and parks over the years was finally discovered by police investigators. Although he is not as well known as the British artist, he has managed to make a name for himself in the streets of Rome as well as other parts of Europe.
According to a report by the New York Times, the ‘elusive tagger’ has been identified as an Italian artist that goes by Geco.
On a Facebook post last week, Mayor Virginia Raggi congratulated the authorities for their triumph which included a picture of some of the graffiti artist’s tools. “Hundreds of spray cans, thousands of stickers, ropes, fire extinguishers, cords, locks, six mobile phones, computers, brushes, rollers and buckets of paint,” she wrote. “This is the material that the Environment and Decoration Unit of our Local Police has seized from the Roman writer known as Geco”.
According to Geco’s lawyer, Domenico Melillo, the tagger remains yet to be formally charged for defacing public or private property. If he were to be charged however, he could face over two years in prison and fines.
“Everything has to be verified,” he told the NY Times.
The investigation was carried out by an 18 month old environmental police task force that works directly for the mayor’s office. Geco landed in hot water when he mistakenly tagged what he thought was an abandoned building that actually turned out to be a Secret Service hide-out.
Details such as his real name and age have been omitted by police. But thanks to Italian news outlets who identified him without saying how, few personal details about the man came to light. Geco is thought to be in his late 20s and originally from Rome. His lawyer would not (for obvious reasons) confirm his real name.
In the past, Geco identified himself as a high-volume bomber who aims to “spread my name more than having a super-developed aesthetic.”
Not everyone is impressed with the arrest. Many Romans complained that the city and the mayor should be focusing on more pressing issues pertaining to the people such as the scourge of potholes, infrequent garbage collection, and of course, the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.
Melillo himself is a former graffiti writer turned street artist who goes by Frode. He regarded Mayor Virginia Raggi‘s Facebook post as political propaganda which violated his client’s right to secrecy. “Mayors have understood that cracking down on graffiti has become a way to forge a political consensus”, he said. “They want to show that they’re doing something.”