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.
Brazen Bronze Thieves Remove Rodin
Two men dressed as tourists stole “The Man with the Broken Nose” (1863), a sculpture by August Rodin, from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum in Copenhagen. The small work, valued at $300,000, was taken from the museum’s Rodin Gallery in broad daylight during public opening hours.
Verdict: Who’s to say the culprits weren’t thieves dressed as tourists, but rather tourists acting like thieves dressed as tourists? Think about that.
Van Gogh Forger Can Gogh Straight to Jail
A 56-year-old man was arrested in the Netherlands for trying to sell a fake Vincent van Gogh. The man was asking €15 million (~$17.1 million) for what he claimed was a study for “The Harvest” (1888), which hangs at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Verdict: Inflated as van Gogh’s market is, €15 million for a study is ludicrous.
“Where’s Our Warhols?” Slovaks Ask
The Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce, Slovakia — a small town about 10 miles from the village where Warhol’s mother was born — has lost track of two works from its collection: a Campbell’s soup can painting valued at €35,000 (~$40,000) and a €500 (~$570) copy of a Marilyn Monroe portrait. The museum loaned both works to a company called Arts Group, which did not return them after the contract expired.
Verdict: The only thing shadier than a Warhol museum in the Slovak town near where his mother was born is a Warhol-borrowing organization called “Arts Group.”
Daniel Buren Bullish Over Lousy State of Lyon Square
The stripe-loving French artist Daniel Buren is threatening to sue the city of Lyon for the sad state into which it has let his 1994 rehabilitation of the Place des Terreaux fall. Created in collaboration with the architect Christian Drevet, the public square, which faces Lyon’s city hall, features a symmetrical arrangement of 69 small fountains, some of which have not worked properly since 1995.
Verdict: Its inability to maintain its main urban plaza puts Lyon’s long-held reputation as France’s bourgeois metropolis seriously at risk.
Rooster Sculpture Now Crowing at the Sun in Folk Art Heaven
“Big Blue Rooster,” a beloved piece of roadside folk art in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, was plucked from its perch and now local police are offering $500 for any information that may lead to an arrest. “This isn’t the first time the rooster has been stolen,” Minnie Adkins, the widow of the artist responsible for the iron rooster, told LEX18. “Apparently several years ago some teenagers stole the rooster and it was later found washed up in a river.”
Verdict: “Big Blue Rooster” will turn up any day now on the Kentucky cockfighting circuit.
Vandals Lay Waste to Labyrinth
A rock labyrinth created in 2004 by artist Eduardo Aguilera, and maintained since then by local caretaker Colleen Yerge, was decimated earlier this month. The labyrinth was a beloved landmark in San Francisco’s Land’s End park. “Normally when it’s destroyed, only a quarter of the rocks are removed,” Yerge told the San Francisco Chronicle. “This time they removed every single rock.”
Verdict: Just because you can’t find your way through a labyrinth does not give you the right to destroy it.
French Tourists Swipe Ancient Souvenirs
A French couple was arrested for stealing brooches, coins, and other metal artifacts from the Empúries, a Greco-Roman archaeological site in Catalonia. Police officers searched the couple’s vehicle and found two metal detectors and two picks, along with the stolen artifacts.
Verdict: France is full of (far superior) Greco-Roman sites to dig up metal artifacts from, why even bother traveling to Spain?
Greek Artist Destroys Beloved Mermaid Carving
Several years after being fined €533 (~$612) for “destroying a natural structure” when he carved a giant stone mermaid at Kavurotripes beach, the Greek artist Dionisios Karipidis has decided to destroy his sculpture rather than face additional fines or let the local government demolish it.
Verdict: If it’ll keep stupid swimmers from doing things like this, I’m for it.
Copying Artist’s Neon Not On
Artist Kelly Mark recently discovered an unauthorized copy of one of her neon text artworks, which reads “I called shotgun infinity when I was twelve,” hanging in a restaurant in Toronto. Mark and her lawyer have written the restaurant, Old School, demanding that the artwork be removed and destroyed, but have received no answer.
Verdict: Sometimes calling shotgun infinity just isn’t enough.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.