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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.
Kimye’s Pastor Irks Street Artists
Pastor-to-the-stars Rich Wilkerson Jr. — famous, among other things, for officiating Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s wedding — has rented out the auditorium of Jose de Diego Middle School in the Wynwood district of Miami and is using the street art murals adorning its exterior to promote his Vous Church, much to the dismay of the seven artists who created them. The artists are demanding to be compensated for Wilkinson’s use of their art to promote his church on social media.
Verdict: Before long, Wilkerson will have a rendez-vous in court.
Shark Photographer Wants a Bite of Apple Founder Biopic
Underwater photographer Carl Roessler claims Universal Pictures never got his permission to use one of his Great White Shark photos in the film Steve Jobs. The copyrighted image appears twice in scenes that are intended to show that Jobs was “intense, visceral, vicious, ruthless, and predatory,” Roessler says in his lawsuit.
Verdict: Though inexcusable, Universal Pictures’ actions are at least in keeping with Jobs’s “vicious, ruthless, and predatory” business practices.
Swipe No More
A visitor to New York City’s immersive theater experience Sleep No More had his wallet stolen during a recent performance. “I think someone stole my wallet,” Charlie Pflaumer, the pickpocketing victim, reportedly told the production’s maître d’ after the incident. “Is that part of the show?”
Verdict: The Sleep No More thief’s greatest crime may actually be his blatant ripoff of the purse-snatching artist in this classic Portlandia sketch.
Sauced Schmuck Shucks Oyster Art
A public sculpture of an oyster has been recovered after a 29-year-old man who “was just bored and decided to come to downtown Mobile” ripped it off its pedestal outside a Mobile Police Department precinct house. Melissa Shaver, the artist who painted the work, will have to create a new piece, since the original was badly damaged.
Verdict: A hundred hours of oyster fishing for the bored vandal.
Boosted Brainwash Horse Brought Back
Two teens stole a work-in-progress by artist Mr. Brainwash from a storefront space on Manhattan’s Lower East Side where he stores some of his art. They were later persuaded to return the giant rocking horse, said to be worth $70,000. Brainwash said he would not press charges because the teens realized what they did was wrong, but will instead “give them a print or something to remember that doing good is all better.”
Verdict: Having to live with a Mr. Brainwash print is the ultimate punishment.
Vintage Lunar Rover Prototype Scrapped
A 1960s Mobile Test Article, which NASA created as a prototype for the roving vehicles that Apollo astronauts eventually used on the moon, has been sold for scrap metal. The space artifact was recently discovered in the backyard of a home in Blountsville, Alabama, one hour south of the Marshall Space Flight Center, but by the time NASA contacted the owner it was too late.
Verdict: Space historians are not over the moon about this news.
New Orleans Paint Crew Pilfers from Historic Homes
A group of thieves disguising themselves as employees of a house-painting company have been stealing architectural details like cornices, gates, and brackets off of historic homes.
Verdict: In a city rife with inequality and incredibly rich in historic buildings, this seems tragically unsurprising.
Pro-Gentrification Vandal Attacks Artwork
An unsanctioned piece of public art that appeared last month in an vacant Houston lot and featured text bemoaning the area’s gentrification — “Urban development has swept through these streets and changed our city from what we once remember it to be” — was knocked over and had many of its letters forcibly removed with a fork.
Verdict: When even unsanctioned sculpture can’t escape unscathed, you know gentrification has taken hold.
Rogue Hotel Exhibition Goes Awry
Artist Kendra Anderson was arrested at the Embassy Suites in Louisville, Kentucky, after allegedly gaining unlawful entry to the hotel and starting to set up an exhibition in its atrium.
Verdict: If any space is badly in need of an artistic intervention, it’s the common area at the Embassy Suites in Louisville.
Police Museum Volunteers Copped a Feel
Volunteers at the San Diego Police Museum were filmed on Halloween night pretending to handcuff and arrest women in costumes, leaning them over police cars and pulling their hair back for photo-ops, even going so far as to slap one on her butt. “They went from taking a picture of a woman to pulling her over a hood, which is obviously a sexual encounter,” the camera-toting witness told NBC San Diego. “It’s a sexual gesture.”
Verdict: Clearly, even volunteer museum cops need sensitivity training.