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.
Diminutive Doggy Abducted
Apparently art thieves find dog sculptures irresistible. Less than a month after Tony Matelli’s “Stray Dog” went truly astray on the streets of Manhattan, Devon Nowlin‘s small, 3D-printed prototype for a dog sculpture covered in a checker pattern, “Frank,” was stolen from Fort Worth’s Artspace111 on the evening of March 28.
Verdict: The mistreatment of dogs, even 3D-printed ones, is unacceptable.
Dirty Dealer Flipped Pilfered Antiquities
Upper East Side art dealer Nayef Homsi made nearly $500,000 selling three sculptures that were stolen from Nepalese and Hindu temples, according to papers the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office recently filed in civil court. The deals took place between June of 2012 and March of 2013, and included a sculpture representing the Buddhist deity Samvara dating from the 13th century that Homsi sold for $370,000. He is expected to be arrested soon following an eight-year investigation by the Manhattan DA and Department of Homeland Security.
Verdict: This is what you get for trying to sell a looted statue of a guardian deity.
Russian Crooks Rob Pierre Soulages
Two Russian men, one of them a minor, have been arrested after stealing €35,000 (~$38,200) from the 95-year-old French artist Pierre Soulages. The thieves, whom Soulages said spoke perfect French, turned up at the artist’s home at 10pm on April 1, but this was no April Fools’ prank. They claimed to be investigating a robbery and asked that Soulages and his wife take stock of their valuables in order to insure that nothing was missing. As they did this, the thieves pocketed an envelope full of cash. They were nearby after the Soulages caught wind of the scheme and called the police.
Verdict: Never nab from a nonagenarian.
Airman’s Stolen Cigarette Case Makes Return Flight
A metal cigarette case that once belonged to R.J. Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire fighter plane, and was stolen last month from the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton, UK, was returned to the institution anonymously. The prized artifact arrived in good condition inside a padded postal envelope.
Verdict: Museum theft doesn’t fly — but it can get you grounded.