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.
Wackos Go Waco on Cat Sculpture
Vandals took turpentine and a flame to a 10-foot-tall papier-mâché sculpture of a cat by Jesus Rivera at the Art Forum of Waco, reducing the artwork to ashes and two disembodied ears, and leaving thousands of dollars in damage in their wake.
Verdict: This situation is sad, but not impawssible; Rivera’s cat sculpture still has eight lives left.
Thief Swapped Out Warhols for Fakes
A family in Los Angeles discovered that nine of the silkscreen prints from Andy Warhol’s Ten Portraits of Jews in the 20th Century series that had been hanging in their editing studio since the 1980s are fakes left in place of the purloined originals. The stolen works, one of which has since turned up at auction, are valued at $350,000.
Verdict: At least the Warhols didn’t end up on the cutting room floor.
Buckeyes Wreck Utah Rock Art
Native American pictographs painted on rocks in Utah’s Chicken Creek Canyon were found covered in tags last month. Helpfully, the tags include the names of the culprits and the university they attend — every year students from Ohio State University go on a geology field camp in the region.
Verdict: Geology students who tag ancient painted rocks should be expelled, as their behavior evidences a fundamental disrespect for their field of study.
Cops Collar Sasquatch Stencil Artist
Police in Kennebunk, Maine, have arrested 36-year-old Freeman Hatch for allegedly spray painting the image of the mythical bipedal forest creature Sasquatch (aka Bigfoot) on public property around town.
Verdict: Come on, Hatch, everyone knows Sasquatch prefers the low-humidity forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Maybe Dingoes Buffed Your Mural?
A beloved mural by Guido Van Helten in Lismore, New South Wales, was destroyed last month by vandals toting rollers and white house paint by the bucketload. While tagging is fairly common in the city’s Back Alley Gallery space, “We’ve never seen anything like this in the laneway before … it’s weird,” the space’s manager, Erin Lewis, told the Northern Star.
Verdict: Perhaps these are not vandals at all, but rather abstract expressionist vandals honing their public Pollockian aesthetic.
Construction Site Sarcophagus Spotted
An 1,800-year-old sarcophagus weighing more than two tons and decorated with images of Cupid and Medusa that was dug up by construction workers in Ashkelon, Israel, has been seized by authorities after the workers attempted to hide their discovery.
Verdict: That sarcophagus would have made such nice lobby art for the forthcoming condo.
They Knock Over Equestrian Sculptures, Don’t They?
“Cold War Horse” (2015), a life-size sculpture by Jeff Gipe of a horse wearing a bright-red hazmat suit and gas mask that was recently installed in Colorado near the former Rocky Flats Plant — which manufactured nuclear weapons from 1952 to 1992 — was attacked by vandals. “The sculpture was pulled out of the ground with a truck then it was beaten with a sledge hammer,” Gipe told the Denver Post. “The damage is really extensive.”
Verdict: Sounds like the work of dangerous Cold War deniers.
Remember the Alamo, Again
A heroic guard at the Alamo stopped a man who was attempting to use a car key to scratch his name into the wall of the 250-year-old historical building.
Verdict: This is the second-happiest piece of news to come out of the Alamo this summer, following the appointment in June of a new official Alamo cat.