King Tutankhamun’s burial mask at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after it was reinstalled late last year following the restoration of its beard (photo by Mark Fischer/Flickr)

King Tutankhamun’s burial mask at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after it was reinstalled late last year following the restoration of its beard (photo by Mark Fischer/Flickr)

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.

King Tut’s Barbers Charged

Eight employees of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are due to be charged with negligence for a haphazard restoration of King Tutankhamun’s burial mask. The beard of the 3,300-year-old mask fell off under mysterious circumstances and was clumsily reattached, potentially causing further damage to the prized artifact.

Verdict: The Egyptian legal system makes the curse of the mummy look like a cakewalk.

Art Trailer’s Trail Goes Cold

A trailer containing artworks by Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Keith Haring, and other goods cumulatively worth some $250,000 was stolen from an industrial park in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles. The theft happened in November of last year, but the LAPD’s art theft squad still has no leads.

Verdict: Those must be some pretty weak works by Haring, Matisse, Chagall, Miró, and company if they barely add up to $250,000 in value.

Chi Museum Not Shy about Suing

The Art Institute of Chicago filed a lawsuit against four engineering and construction companies, claiming that one of the museum’s underground vaults had to be replaced after the companies damaged its roof while creating a concrete trench for telecommunications cables.

Verdict: There’s a silver lining to this story — we now know the Art Institute has secret underground vaults.

Hockey-Playing Beaver Statue Disappears

A beloved steel sculpture of a beaver holding a hockey stick, long a fixture in the front yard of Edmonton residents David and Susan Holdsworth, disappeared overnight. The sculpture, made by local artist Joe Renaud from scrap metal, was welded to a bench and supported by a pile that went several feet into the ground.

Verdict: That’s a dam shame.

Gandhi Gets Pro-ISIS Makeover

The vandalized Gandhi statue in Dudu (screenshot via @ANI_news/Twitter)

Vandals scrawled pro-ISIS slogans and messages threatening an terrorist attack on a public sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi in the small city of Dudu in northwestern India.

Verdict: If there’s any group against which Gandhi’s brand of non-violent protest wouldn’t work, it’s ISIS.

All Roads Lead to Trashed Roman Ruins

Roman tombs along the Appian Way that date to the 2nd century BCE have been used for illegal trash disposal. Italian police investigating environmental pollution claims discovered them flooded by an underground lake of oil.

Verdict: Sounds like a golden opportunity for one of Italy’s controversial sponsored restoration projects — make way for the “Mr. Clean Appian Way Tombs”!

World’s Slowest Art Thief Steals Sculpture of World’s Fastest Animal

A man stole a $24,000 sculpture of a cheetah bust by Richard MacDonald from the Dawson Cole Fine Art Gallery in Carmel, California. The entire theft was caught on camera, as was the man’s reconnaissance visit the night before, when he initially took the sculpture and then put it back in its place.

Verdict: Returning to the scene of the crime is dumb enough, but repeating the crime on successive nights is much, much dumber.

Thieves Really Love Heart Sculpture

Two men spent an hour outside Las Vegas’s Container Park unbolting “The Love Locket,” a public artwork in the shape of a heart and covered in locks, and then made off with half of the sculpture. Though many witnesses saw them unfastening the work, nobody stopped them.

Verdict: You’d think all those locks would have made the thing harder to steal.

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Benjamin Sutton

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...