Crimes of the Art is a weekly survey of artless criminals’ cultural misdeeds. Crimes are rated on a highly subjective scale from one “Scream” emoji — the equivalent of a vandal tagging the exterior of a local history museum in a remote part of the US — to five “Scream” emojis — the equivalent of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.
College Art Thief Gets an F
Police in Biddeford, Maine, have arrested Jachin Caron for stealing four paintings worth a total of approximately $400 from an exhibition at Heartwood College of Art. Caron, 25, was caught on camera lifting the canvases off the wall at the Pepperell Mill exhibition space, and tips from members of the community led to his arrest.
Verdict: Today’s thieves apparently don’t know about ski masks. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Greasing the Palm with 100 Paintings
Darius Valcov, Romania’s former finance minister, has been detained on suspicion that he accepted bribes when he was the mayor of a town in the south of the country. The gifts he received allegedly include three kilos of gold bars, more than $400,000 cash, and over 100 paintings, including works by Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir, and Andy Warhol.
Verdict: Use the confiscated loot to open a museum.
Picasso Framer Framed?
A retired frame-maker in Rome claims he was given a Picasso painting — now said to be worth €15 million (~$16.1 million) — by a customer as repayment for a kind act. The client had come into the frame shop after accidentally smashing the glass on a framed image of his late wife, and the frame-maker replaced it for free. Italian police appear unmoved by the sweet story, and seized the Cubist still life after the frame-maker tried to consign it at Sotheby’s.
Verdict: Repayment for favors, bribes for politicians, interior decoration … Is there anything Picasso paintings can’t be used for?
Very Suspect Versace Shirts
The designer Kesh has called out Versace for peddling £440 (~$650) shirts that bear a striking resemblance to a line of $30 tops she designed for American Apparel several years ago. Kesh says her lawyers will be contacting Versace over the suspiciously similar designs.
Verdict: It doesn’t take facial recognition software to see the similarity.
Jade Thief Fesses Up
Twenty-seven-year-old Robert Gilbert Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal artifacts in connection with a series of heists that struck British museums and auction houses in 2012. He and 13 others were arrested in a series of raids that took place in 2013 after objects, including a rhinoceros horn and Chinese jade, were stolen from the Durham University Oriental Museum, Norwich Castle Museum, Gorringes Auction House, Fitzwilliam Museum, and elsewhere. Eleven of Smith’s cohorts have pleaded not guilty and two others have yet to enter a plea.
Verdict: Art theft rings take note, the more people are in your crew the more likely that someone will crack.
Have You Seen This Art?
Artist Edgar Ruiz has been hanging “Lost Art” flyers around Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood after he claims that three works that were part of a one-night exhibition at LMNT Studios went missing. The flyers read: “Missing: Last Seen in the Hands of the Idiots at LMNT.” The studio, which initially cooperated with Ruiz and offered to pay him for the missing works, is now considering charging him with harassment.
Verdict: In an overly litigious culture, public shaming only works up to a point.