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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.
Neighbors Huff, Puff, but Can’t Blow Tin House In
Artist Piotr Janowski has turned his home at 402 Ashland Avenue in Tarpon Springs, Florida (where else?), into a large-scale public artwork by wrapping its exterior and several of the trees on his property in tin foil, but his neighbors are less-than-thrilled by his suburban, DIY variation on Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate.” The city’s code enforcement department is still trying to determine whether or not the project violates any municipal code. “In their thick, bureaucratic books, I’m sure they have nothing against this,” Janowski told the Tampa Bay Times.
Verdict: By Floridian standards, this is not very strange at all.
Marker Kingpin Capped
Warehouse manager Pedro Luis Arana is suspected of stealing $25,000 worth of fancy “art markers” from MacPherson Art’s facility in Suwanee, Georgia, over the course of eight months and selling them on eBay.
Verdict: Arana is a marked man in the marker industry.
Chihuly Employee Tried to Flip Ill-Gotten Glass Sculptures
Christopher Robert Kaul, a former employee of glass artist Dale Chihuly, has been charged with one count of first-degree theft and three counts of first-degree trafficking for allegedly stealing 90 glass sculptures worth a total of $3 million from the Chihuly warehouse in Tacoma, Washington.
Verdict: Just $3 million for 90 Chihuly sculptures? That is a steal!
Sculpture Igniter Gets Probation
A 13-year-old girl in Lincoln, Nebraska, will be on probation for nearly six years and will have to serve 20 hours of community service for intentionally setting a sculpture ablaze and starting a fire that caused $10,000 in damage to the Burkholder Project studio and gallery building. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, “Police believe the girl started the blaze because she’s infatuated with fire.”
Verdict: Perhaps next time the teen pyromaniac disapproves of a sculpture, she can write a fiery critique instead — we could use a writer in Nebraska!
Cairo Curators Caught in Caper
Two curators at the soon-to-open National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo have been arrested for allegedly stealing objects from the institution to sell at auction in London and replacing them with fakes.
Verdict: No joke, that’s just reprehensible.
Meteorite Theft Ring Goes Down
Four men — three Argentines and a Paraguayan — have been arrested for attempting to steal more than 200 large chunks of meteorite from the “Campo del Cielo” (“Field of Heaven”) region of northern Argentina, which was pummeled by hundreds of meteorites 4,000 years ago.
Verdict: Expect more such heists as the market for meteorites reaches stratospheric heights.
“Afghan Girl” Photographer’s Sticky-Fingered Assistant Snapped
Bree DeStephano, the former manager of fine art print sales for Steve McCurry — creator of the iconic National Geographic cover photo “Afghan Girl” — has been arrested and accused of stealing $628,000 worth of prints and $23,196 worth of books from the photographer’s studio and selling the goods on the sly.
Verdict: Who knew that the market for “Afghan Girl” prints and books was so insatiable?
Glassholes Hit Ohio Churches
Century-old stained glass windows have been stolen from at least two churches in Columbus, Ohio. Police have no leads.
Verdict: Chaucer cautioned that “Whose house is of glass, must not throw stones at another,” but now that the glass is gone from these churches’ homes, they should feel free to throw stones at wanton window thieves.