The artist SKIP strapping his banana sculpture to his truck shortly before it was stolen. (photo via @seeskip/Instagram)

The artist SKIP strapping his banana sculpture to his truck shortly before it was stolen. (photo via @seeskip/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.

Thieves Peel Off with Banana Sculpture


A large sculpture of a banana by Orlando artist SKIP was stolen following last month’s Cardboard Art Festival. After leaving the festival with the oversize yellow fruit strapped to the roof of his truck, the artist was caught in a rainstorm, sought shelter under a high school’s playground pavilion, and left it there with the intent of coming back to retrieve it after the storm passed. However, when SKIP returned the artwork was gone.

Verdict: Sad as this theft is, it’s hardly surprising — no self-respecting lover of prop comedy could pass up the opportunity to add a giant banana to her arsenal.

Lawsuit Over Honolulu Loot


The Honolulu Art Museum is suing collector Joel Alexander Greene for $880,000, alleging that he can’t prove the provenance of five objects from his collection of Southeast Asian art, valued at $1.3 million, which Greene gifted to the museum in exchange for an annual payment of $80,000. The institution fears Greene has failed to provide documentation for the objects because they were acquired from disgraced New York antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor.

Verdict: We’ll be hearing stories like this, about the ripple effects of Kapoor’s dirty dealings, for years.

Appropriation Without Rime or Reason

Katy Perry, in her allegedly Rime-inspired Moschino dress, with Jeremy Scott at the 2015 Met Gala (photo via @itsjeremyscott/Instagram)

Katy Perry, in her allegedly Rime-inspired Moschino dress, with Jeremy Scott at the 2015 Met Gala (photo via @itsjeremyscott/Instagram)


Brooklyn graffiti artist Rime is suing designer Jeremy Scott and Moschino for allegedly using one of his murals without permission in the design of the dress worn by Katy Perry to this year’s Met Gala. The dress’s shapes, colors, and figurative details match a mural that Rime (real name Joseph Tierney) painted in Detroit.

Verdict: Only one logical punishment — Katy Perry commissions Rime to design her next album cover.

Fancy Bookkeeping at Greek Archaeological Site’s Gift Shop


As if the Greek government didn’t already have enough on its plate, it is now investigating the Knossos archaeological site on the island of Crete following accusations of tax fraud by workers in its gift shop.

Verdict: In keeping with Cretan tradition, send the gift shop workers into the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

Artist’s Signs Find Their Way into Thieves’ Pockets

One of Stephen Powers's "emotional wayfinding" signs (photo by @steveespopowes/Instagram)

One of Stephen Powers’s “emotional wayfinding” signs (photo by @steveespopowes/Instagram)


Signs by artist Stephen Powers, commissioned by New York City’s Department of Transportation as part of its Summer Streets program, are steadily being stolen from the street lamps and signposts where they’ve been attached. Just a few of the so-called “emotional wayfinding” signs remain.

Verdict: If all New York City street signs were designed by artists, this wouldn’t be a problem.

Presidential Mural Paintballed in the Balls


A mural in Washington, DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood that features likenesses of 11 US presidents was attacked by a vandal armed with a paintball gun, who splattered the crotches of the commanders in chief with red paint.

Verdict: Though the vandal’s actions are indefensible, her or his aim is excellent.

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...

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