Mural by The Droops on the exterior of Spot Tavern in Lafayette, Indiana (photo by @TheDroops/Instagram)

Mural by the Droops on the exterior of Spot Tavern in Lafayette, Indiana (photo by @TheDroops/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.

Wiener Mural Has Hoosier Hot and Bothered


The Spot Tavern in Lafayette, Indiana, has come under fire from one of its neighbors over a mural by the Droops on its exterior wall featuring a nude woman tied to a tree and a hot dog bun with a penis instead of a wiener.

Verdict: The most fantastic thing about this otherwise by-the-books small-town art story is this detail, from WISHTV’s report: “Nearby neighbor Ila Solomon started a petition online intended for Mayor Tony Roswarski. You may remember Ila Solomon for pleading guilty to trying to feed her husband to the birds.” Solomon’s strange past, which involves living with her husband’s corpse and collecting his benefits for as long as nine months after he’d died, is chronicled here.

Dishonest Abe Lovers Lift Lincoln Likeness


A large marble bust of Abraham Lincoln by the Italian sculptor Ivo Zini was stolen from the Gettysburg Hall of Presidents Museum.

Verdict: Perhaps the thieves felt they were merely emancipating the great emancipator.

Sandy Mural Capped

Lisa Be's "CAPS for KIDS" mural being installed in Long Beach two years ago. (photo by @tallboysclub/Instagram)

Lisa Be’s “CAPS for KIDS” mural being installed in Long Beach two years ago (photo by @tallboysclub/Instagram)


A public art project that artist Lisa Be made in Long Beach, Long Island, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was destroyed by a construction crew that had been instructed to preserve it. The mural, “CAPS for KIDS,” was a landscape made up of 50,000 colorful bottle caps that children throughout the city had collected.

Verdict: The construction crew must wish they’d kept a lid on this story.

Pencil Sculpture Rubbed Out


A 12-foot-tall sculpture of a pencil said to be worth $9,000 was stolen from the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Verdict: Perhaps the thieves are trying to send a message that Purdue should transition to a paperless campus.

Military Museum Robbed of WWII Gun on Veterans Day


Thieves struck the New Mexico Museum of Military History in the early-morning hours of Veterans Day, making off with a still-functioning World War II machine gun valued at $4,000.

Verdict: Such brazen timing! What’s next, someone robbing the International Pancake Day Hall of Fame on International Pancake Day?!

Tagger Takes Down Towering Toys

One of Dotmasters' murals in Croydon and TIC's tag (photo by @ph1lwatts/Instagram)

One of Dotmasters’ murals in Croydon with TIC’s tag beside it (photo by @ph1lwatts/Instagram)


Two murals of giant toys by the artist Dotmasters, intended to promote street art in the South London town of Croydon, were tagged by a graffiti artist who goes by “TIC” and is a member of the local Kaos Crew.

Verdict: Another chapter in the never-ending rivalry between graffiti and street art.

Scrooges Strike Christmas Art Fair


Karen Jewell, a vendor at this year’s Southern Christmas Show in Charlotte, North Carolina, lost hand-carved wooden sculptures worth $30,000 when thieves broke the lock on her hitch and made off with her trailer and all its contents.

Verdict: Trailer-loads of coal for those callous Christmas art thieves.

Hindus Bring Down Bovine Hindenburg


A polystyrene sculpture of a cow that hung from a helium balloon at the annual Jaipur Art Summit was taken down by Hindu activists and then handed over to police, who raided the summit and detained two artists for several hours.


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...