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.
Three Looted Antiquities at the Met Repatriated to Turkey
Nine other repatriated works were seized from Met Trustee Shelby White, whose collection was subject to a criminal investigation.
This week, the world’s lightest paint, Pakistan’s feminist movement, World Puppy Day, and were some of Vermeer’s paintings created by his daughter?
The Wider World and Scrimshaw
On March 28, join the New Bedford Whaling Museum online and in-person for a symposium on global carving traditions from across the Pacific Rim.
Who Will Decide on the Future of a Miami Native Burial Ground?
Native activists say sacred remains and objects dug up from a Brickell construction site should remain there, but mega-developer Jorge Pérez is pushing back.
How Can a Curator Approach South Asian Futurisms?
How do I acknowledge my shortcomings while reckoning with obscured histories and the exclusion of subaltern narratives in the fine art landscape? A working checklist for curators.
MCA Chicago Presents On Stage: Frictions
Will Rawls, Shamel Pitts | TRIBE, and Barak adé Soleil explore Blackness, queerness, movement, and dance in performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
The Complicated Legacy of Camilo Egas
The Ecuadorian painter, a leading figure of Latin America’s Indigenismo art movement, has been both praised and scorned for his representation of Indigenous peoples.
Tom Jones Zeroes in on Ho-Chunk Visibility
“I think about the young kids, the teenagers, and I think being able to see yourself represented in art is so powerful,” says the artist.
Haggerty Museum of Art Presents Tomás Saraceno in Dialogue With Dr. Somesh Roy
The artist and researcher will explore soot’s effects on climate change and public health in this online conversation.
Hundreds of Artworks by NYC Teenagers Go on View at the Met
The talented seventh through twelfth-grade students are recipients of the 2023 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
NYC’s Flatiron Building Sells for a Whopping $190M
The sale to outsider bidder Jacob Garlick puts an end to the protracted legal battle between the iconic skyscraper’s five former owners.
McKnight Visual Artist Fellows Discussion Series at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The series features 2021 Fellows David Bowen, Mara Duvra, Rotem Tamir, Ben Moren, and Dyani White Hawk in conversation with renowned curators and critics.
The Best Memes Roasting the “We ❤️ NYC” Campaign
A graphic designer on Twitter created a hilarious send-up of the universally reviled logo, and the rest is history.
Did You Know These Museums Were Free for New Yorkers?
The “Free Admission” campaign is advocating to make ticket pricing information more transparent to visitors, who may be confused or misled by institutions’ language.