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 Sues Starbucks in Frappuccino Fracas
Brooklyn muralist Maya Hayuk is suing Starbucks, claiming the company stole elements of her paintings to create the branding for its “Mini Frappuccinos.” Though the coffee giant originally approached Hayuk to collaborate on the project, when she turned down the offer she claims they went ahead with their plan, commissioning Seattle artist Jordan Kay to create imagery strikingly similar to her own. She’s seeking unspecified cash damages and $750,000 in copyright compensations.
Verdict: Further proof that Frappuccinos, mini or otherwise, are evil.
Crooked Cornwall Dealer Fesses Up to Fakes
David Carter, a gallerist in Cornwall, copped to seven counts of fraud for buying paintings online and then passing them off as original works by outsider artist Alfred Wallis and Pre-Raphaelite John Brett. Carter now faces jail time and will be sentenced on July 16.
Verdict: Peddling fake outsider art is the lowest of the low-hanging fruit of art fraud.
Cady Noland Cuts Down Restored “Log Cabin”
The artist Cady Noland denounced collector Scott Mueller’s plan to restore her only outdoor sculpture without consulting her and disowned the work, “Log Cabin Blank with Screw Eyes and Café Door (Memorial to John Caldwell)” (1990). Now Mueller is suing Berlin’s Janssen Gallery, dealer Michael Janssen, New York’s Marisa Newman Projects, and German collector Wilhelm Schurmann to recover the $800,000 he has not been repaid since the $1.4 million acquisition went sour.
Verdict: People trying to buy rotting log cabin sculptures shouldn’t throw lawsuits.
All’s Not Well at Alhambra
María del Mar Villafranca, the head of the board of directors at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain’s most-visited tourist site, has been arrested along with three other palace employees and a businessman under suspicion of money laundering and embezzlement. The charges relate to the 2007 awarding of a contract to make the audio guides for the Moorish palace, which receives some 2.4 million visitors every year.
Verdict: Laundering money through audio guides — now that’s novel!
Rubber Duck Artist Fights Unauthorized Philly Fowl
Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, creator of the beloved floating inflatable sculpture “Rubber Duck,” has denounced the Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden event for reusing a version of his sculpture originally commissioned for Tall Ships Los Angeles — and for which he was never paid — at the Philly festival last weekend. The elements seemed to support the outraged artist, as Philly’s formidable floating fowl was felled by foul weather.
Verdict: Next time you can’t get permission to show Hofman’s duck, inquire after Paul McCarthy’s “Tree.”
Vandals Level Museum’s Native American House
Vandals destroyed a kotcha — a type of tule house inhabited by the Coast Miwok tribe for thousands of years — that was built four years ago on the grounds of the the Museum of American Indians in Novato, California. “It was an important teaching tool for kids,” said museum director Colleen Hicks. “Not all Indians lived in teepees — it’s a stereotype.”
Verdict: If caught, the vandals should be made apprentices to master kotcha builders.
Snake Visitor Makes a Splash at Texas Museum
A worker at the Archer County Museum in Archer City, Texas, was surprised on a recent morning when she discovered a very large snake in one of the museum toilets. Archer City Police and Archer County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the scene but didn’t know how to proceed; naturally, one of the museum’s trustees is not only a snake expert but a snake merchant, and was able to safely extract the 5’8″ rat snake.
Verdict: Consider starting a snake-charmer-in-residence program.
Cherokee Artist’s Claims Don’t Check Out
Prosecutors claim artist Terry Lee Whetstone has violated a federal law by falsely claiming Cherokee heritage to sell his works as traditional Native American art. Though Whetstone is not a member of the federally recognized Cherokee Nation, he is an enrolled member of the Northern Cherokee Nation, which claims it is recognized by the state of Missouri. Misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods and products is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in prison.
Verdict: Claiming Native American heritage when you’re not Native American…
Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award
Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the shortlisted artists.
British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles
“With the power of blockchain technology, there will be no question who the real owner is,” said a British Museum spokesperson.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
MoMA to Co-Curate Exhibition With NYPD
Arrest Me, Daddy hopes to cast a more positive light on the work of law enforcement officers.
Repatriation-Inspired Fragrance Line Hopes to Heal Collector Wounds
The exotic scents of the Rapatriement line offer solace and joy to dismayed collectors who were forced to return looted artifacts.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist
Visitors who spoke to Hyperallergic said they were “horrified” to learn that a human could come up with such a banal and poorly executed artwork.
Prince Harry to Star in New Van Gogh Biopic
The estranged prince said he took the role to raise awareness of mental health issues.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs
A cache of 243 paintings found in an English castle, all depicting canine subjects, suggests Vermeer’s true aspiration was to become a dog portraitist.
Vatican Partners With Balenciaga on “Spiritual” Menswear Line
A spokesperson for the church cited “shared values” with the fashion brand.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Iran Issues Fatwa Against AI
A reinterpretation of the Quran through a queer lens, written by an AI chatbot, is said to cause the move.
Met Gala Announces 2023 “Looting and Plunder” Theme
Select A-list guests will be invited to wear any artifacts from the museum’s collection that have not yet been seized by the Manhattan DA’s office.
Regarding Whetstone’s case—under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, members of either federal or state recognized tribes are able to say they are Native American. The “Northern Cherokee Nation” claims that it is recognized by the State of Missouri, but no independent sources substantiate that claim, so that will probably be discussed in the trial.
Thank you for the note and explanation. We’ll revise the article to make this point clearer.
What’s interesting is that “Chief” Kenn “Grey Elk” DesCombes of the so-called Northern Cherokee Nation doesn’t appear to understand what state-recognition is. Still surprised that this case is going to court.
i love crimes of the art!
keep up the good work.
Comments are closed.