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Crimes of the Art

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo by Kenjiro Sano (left) and the Théâtre de Liège logo designed by Olivier Debie (right) (graphic by the author)
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo by Kenjiro Sano (left) and the Théâtre de Liège logo designed by Olivier Debie (right) (graphic by the author)

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.

Tokyo Olympic Logo Gets Gold Metal for Plagiarism

crimes-of-the-art-scream-3Designer Kenjiro Sano’s logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is suspiciously similar to Belgian designer Olivier Debie’s logo for a theater in Liège. While Sano issued a statement on the accusation saying, “I have no particular comment to make,” Debie says he is “consulting with a lawyer.”

Verdict: Debie makes a compelling case for plagiarism, but the sad truth is that no Olympic logo will ever surpass the Mexico City summer games of 1968.

Greedy Gallerists Get Ghost

crimes-of-the-art-scream-4Donald Smith and Emma Poole, the former proprietors of Opus Art, a gallery in Stow-on-the-Wold, are accused of selling off their business and retiring to France while leaving unpaid debts of more than £500,000 (~$780,000) owed to artists and collectors. The Gloucestershire Police is investigating the couple and recently raided the gallery’s storage space.

Verdict: Smith’s prior involvement with Eyestorm — a gallery that owed Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Helmut Newton, and others thousands of pounds when it went under in 2002 — should probably have raised some red flags among Opus Art’s prospective buyers.

Hitchhiking as Dangerous for Robots as It Is for Everyone Else

crimes-of-the-art-scream-5The Canadian hitchhiking robot hitchBOT, equal parts psychological experiment and social sculpture, was destroyed in Philadelphia two weeks into its journey around the US. A video allegedly showing the robot’s destruction at the hands of a man wearing a Philadelphia Eagles jersey has since been revealed to be a fake, making its creators prime suspects in this act of wanton robocide.

Verdict: Do androids spend the afterlife in electric clouds?

Clandestine Picasso Caught in Corsica

A tweet by French Customs showing the Pablo Picasso painting seized from Jaime Botín's yacht, "Head of a Young Woman." (screenshot by the author)
A tweet by French Customs showing the Pablo Picasso painting seized from Jaime Botín’s yacht, “Head of a Young Woman” (via @douane_france)

crimes-of-the-art-scream-4French customs officials boarded the superyacht of Spanish collector Jaime Botín — whose family was involved in the founding of the Santander bank — while it was moored in Corsica and seized the €25-million (~$27.2 million) Pablo Picasso painting “Head of a Young Woman,” on which Spain had placed an export ban and which Botín was allegedly trying to ferry to Switzerland illegally.

Verdict: Didn’t Botín realize Switzerland is landlocked? His superyacht smuggling scheme would never have worked.

Pop-up Show Damaged in Deinstall

crimes-of-the-art-scream-2Artist Ian James’s work, which had been on view in a donated, vacant space in Houston, was damaged and destroyed when the organization taking over the space after his exhibition closed deinstalled the work improperly.

Verdict: Even shows in free spaces deserve professional deinstallations.

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