Sayeh Sarfaraz's "D pour Démocratie" (2015) after being vandalized (photo by 2fikornot2fik/Instagram)

Sayeh Sarfaraz’s “D pour Démocratie” (2015) after being vandalized (photo by 2fikornot2fik/Instagram)

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.

D for Destruction


A sculpture by Sayeh Sarfaraz titled “D pour Démocratie” (“D for Democracy,” 2015) that is part of Montreal’s annual public art festival Aires Libres, was attacked by vandals. The giant statue, made to resemble a green-cloaked, democracy-spreading Lego superhero, had its right arm violently amputated last week.

Verdict: You can’t disarm democracy, it’s ambidextrous.

Collector Could Get the Boot Over Nazi Loot


Manhattan-based art collector Alexander Khochinskiy is fighting extradition to Poland after refusing to restitute a painting — Antione Pesne’s “Girl with a Dove” (1754) — that was stolen from a Polish museum by the Nazis during World War II.

Verdict: Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus” says “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” It doesn’t say anything about Nazi loot hoarders. Send him to Poland!

Neighbors Want Lewd Lawn Art Mowed Down

Tony Papadimitirou's lawn art installation (photo by C.E. Pontz Sons/Instagram)

Tony Papadimitirou’s lawn art installation (photo by C.E. Pontz Sons/Instagram)


Tony Papadimitirou’s neighbors in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, want his lawn art installation — which includes a hot pink bedside table with a sign that reads “one night stand,” a pink mannequin wearing lace underwear, pink cherubs, flamingos, dogs, and more — taken down. Local residents have called the police claiming the artworks are “obscene.”

Verdict: Papadimitirou’s neighbors should embrace their local folk art attraction and start selling T-shirts.

Florida Man’s Cuban Paintings Stolen


Five paintings by Cuban artists — including Wilfredo Lam and Cundo Bermúdez — cumulatively worth between $200,000 and $350,000 were stolen from Edouardo Goudie’s home in the Coral Gable neighborhood of Miami. The works were cut from their frames, which were left behind. At the time of the heist Goudie was still moving into the house, and two doors at the back of the house had been left unlocked.

Verdict: If you own a major art collection, make sure you lock your doors — even on moving day.

Hands Up, Don’t Art!


Members of New York City’s biggest police union are none too pleased with artists Atif Ateeq and Roopa Vasudevan over their installation “HANDS UP” at Flux Factory in Queens, which simulates the experience of being stopped by the police. The artwork, informed by accounts of the events that led to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was deemed a “piece of crap” by Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch.

Verdict: Right behind a positive review in Friday’s New York Times, a negative review from New York law enforcement authorities is the highest level of critical praise an artist can hope to receive — congrats to Ateeq and Vasudevan!

Guggenheim Descendants Fight Guggenheim Foundation Over Guggenheim Collection


Sandro Rumney, one of Peggy Guggenheim‘s grandsons, has launched a legal appeal against the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation — which runs the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice — to have the display at his grandmother’s palazzo restored to its original state. The appeal is the latest development in a long-running dispute between the foundation and Guggenheim’s descendants, who claim the foundation has violated the terms of its agreement with the late collector by displaying works from another collection alongside her own.

Verdict: The solution seems painfully obvious — house the intruding collection in a new, modern wing designed by Rem Koolhaas, Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, or Zaha Hadid.

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...

One reply on “Crimes of the Art”

  1. Until the police can stop blaming the victims for crimes the police commit things will continue to fester and worsen, and as we are already seeing, more and more police will die. While some of us are rightfully very angry about our relatives, friends, and fellow citizens being unjustifiably murdered by people in positions of authority who should know better but act like immature and insecure bullies, killing cops could arguably be justified as self-defense, but in spite of police paranoia, no one really wants this. But only the police can prevent it. Persisting in denial is not a good sign.

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