A security camera image of the two Rodin thieves at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum (photo via Danish National Police)

A security camera image of the two Rodin thieves at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum (photo via Danish National Police)

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 Medzialborce, Slovakia (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzialborce, Slovakia (photo via Wikimedia Commons)


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 Place des Terreaux in Lyon, with Daniel Buren's distinctive stripes and inactive fountains (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The Place des Terreaux in Lyon, with Daniel Buren’s distinctive stripes and inactive fountains (photo via Wikimedia Commons)


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

The Land's End rock labyrinth in San Francisco, pre-vandalism (photo by Eugene Kim/Flickr)

The Land’s End rock labyrinth in San Francisco, pre-vandalism (photo by Eugene Kim/Flickr)


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

Dionisios Karipidis's mermaid at Kavurotripes (photo by @derenyazici/Instagram)

Dionisios Karipidis’s mermaid at Kavurotripes (photo by @derenyazici/Instagram)


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.

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...

3 replies on “Crimes of the Art”

  1. Wow.. someone copied one of the numerous artists doing bland statements in neon. How utterly unsurprising. The only thing more boring is looking at the work of all these numerous artists in the first place.

    Why would one want to copy something so bland, meaningless, and unoriginal in the first place?

      1. Well, generically hip restaurants are all pretty much the same, so it makes sense they would get their flair from generically hip artists whose work is all pretty much the same.

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