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.
Tourists Pinched for Prurient Machu Picchu Pics
Adam Burton and Eric Xavier Mariec, tourists visiting Peru from the UK and France, respectively, were arrested for taking naked photographs at Machu Picchu. The two men were still naked at the time of their arrest by Cusco Police.
Verdict: At least their unsanctioned exhibitionism didn’t trigger an earthquake (see Crimes of the Art #17).
Snapchat Shot Scoops Stolen Sculpture
A fiberglass sculpture of a giant bow tie, commissioned as a memorial to the deceased Las Cruces City Councilor Miguel Silva and recently disappeared from its perch in Klein Park, has been recovered after a Snapchat post allowed police to locate it. “In a picture posted Thursday on Snapchat, the popular photo messaging application, three women are standing side-by-side, jutting their backsides to the camera,” Carlos Andres López of the Las Cruces Sun-News explains. “Directly above the women, the bow tie … is visibly mounted to a wall, like a window accent.”
Verdict: Let this be a cautionary tale for all aspiring art thieves — keep your loot off social media.
Ancient Art Found at Refugee Camp
Three Mesopotamian sculptures dating back to the third millennium BCE were found in a refugee camp near the Croatian border in Slovenia. The artifacts, which were authenticated by the National Museum in Ljubljana, are believed to have been illegally excavated from Iraq or Syria.
Verdict: This probably isn’t the safest way to keep antiquities out of ISIS’s hands, but hey, whatever works!
Priest Punished for Permitting Cemetery Shoveling
Nelson Silvela, a catholic priest in San Joaquin, Philippines, has been suspended by the local archbishop for authorizing treasure-hunters to dig inside the historic San Joaquin Cemetery, which dates back to the Spanish colonial era. Last month 10 men were arrested as they excavated a 50-foot hole inside the cemetery.
Verdict: Suspension seems like a light punishment; whatever happened to “an eye for an eye”? Mandatory archaeological digging duty for Friar Silvela!
Detroit Ruin Porn Relics Removed from Auction
Sotheby’s pulled two fragments of a glass ceiling mosaic designed by Tiffany Studios from an auction after receiving a rightful ownership claim, in which unidentified parties allege that they’d been illegally removed from Detroit’s historic and abandoned Farwell Building. The two fragments had been estimated to sell for between $3,000–5,000 and $6,000–8,000.
Verdict: Given the degree to which Detroit’s ruins have been picked over, it’s surprising this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often.
Defeat Delivered to UPS in Lost Art Scheme Suit
Ivana Vidovic Mlinar has been suing UPS for several years, alleging that the courier company claimed to have lost two of her paintings before selling them to Cargo Largo, its lost goods contractor, which in turn auctioned them publicly. The Florida artist will now be able to pursue her case, after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that it did not violate federal regulations on interstate commerce.
Verdict: One more reason to entrust all pressing courier needs to your national postal service.
Pair of Paintings Missing in Moncton
Two paintings were stolen in broad daylight from Assumption Gallery in Moncton, New Brunswick. The theft of the canvases, collaborations between Ginette Melanson and Julie Arsenault (aka Gin & Julz Fine Art) that were equipped with security chips, was caught on a security camera.
Verdict: Just because Assumption Gallery has a camera and tracking chips, it shouldn’t assume thieves will be deterred.