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.
Artist in Hot Water Over Geyser Stunt
The Chilean, Copenhagen-based artist Marco Evaristti has been sentenced to 15 days in jail in Iceland for pouring pink food dye into the beloved Strokkur Geysir. “I do what I do because I’m a painter, a landscape painter who doesn’t use a canvas, I paint directly on nature,” said Evaristti in his defense.
Verdict: When he gets out, Evaristti should collaborate on a project with pink-loving photographer Richard Mosse.
Casual Thieves or Well-Meaning Salvage Artists?
A couple walked off with a $5,500 painting and a blank canvas belonging to San Francisco artist Nicholas Coley that he’d left sitting out on the street next to his garage “for maybe 10 minutes.”
“They definitely didn’t look like they were trying to steal anything,” said officer Carlos Manfredi, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman. “They hesitated before they picked it up like they couldn’t tell if it was free and then they hung around for a second after they grabbed it.”
Verdict: Don’t leave your art sitting in an alley unattended. Duh.
Book Thief Makes Off with Marquez Masterpiece
A thief stole a signed first edition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude from the International Book Fair in Bogota, Colombia. The book was valued at $60,000.
Verdict: One hundred years in solitary if they ever catch the culprit.
Get My Art Down!
A number of artists whose works are available for sale or rental on the site GetArtUp never gave its administrators permission to advertise their works, or never got their artworks back, or never received payment for the sale of certain pieces, or had their works mishandled, retitled, and misrepresented. One of them, Jenny Odell — whose work appears in the main image on site’s homepage — said she “considered the work stolen” and has threatened to file a police report and lawsuit.
Verdict: When running an online art sales site, priority number one should be keeping the artists who make the work that’s for sale happy.
Chicagoans Bummed Out by “Bum Bait” Signs
An anonymous artist has been putting up signs around Chicago in the style of the Streets and Sanitation Department’s posters about poisoned rat bait, except these read “Target: Bums,” and the locals are not happy. The offending posters also state “Bums can cause guilt — avoid eye contact” and “Properly dispose of all cardboard boxes.” Said one Chicagoan: “I found it completely offensive. I took it down.”
Verdict: Someone needs to parody the parody artist — bring on the “Target: ‘Bum Bait’ Poster Artist” posters.