A member of the winning Devon and Cornwall Police team sculpting a nude murder victim at the Cornwall Beach Games (screenshot via Twitter)

A member of the winning Devon and Cornwall Police team sculpting a nude murder victim at the Cornwall Beach Games (screenshot via Twitter)

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.

Cops Blasted for Sand Sculpture Scandal


The Devon and Cornwall Police came under fire for creating a sand sculpture of a mock crime scene featuring a nude, female murder victim. The tasteless creation was nevertheless crowned the winner of the sandcastle competition at the Cornwall Beach Games.

Verdict: These officers are a disgrace to the sand art community.

SFMOMA Serves Up Unsavory Pastries


Pastry chef Caitlin Williams Freeman, who famously created a line of art-inspired desserts for the Blue Bottle café located in SFMOMA from 2009 to 2013 (when the museum closed for renovation and expansion), visited the reopened institution recently to find the same café — now under new management — serving knockoffs of her creative confections.

Verdict: They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but these imitations just look fatty.

Disapproving Drivers Cause Disturbance at Stonehenge


Six “new-age travelers” were arrested after storming Stonehenge with flaming torches in hand shortly before midnight last Tuesday. They were part of a group of 14 protesters who turned up to voice their opposition to a plan to charge for parking during the upcoming summer solstice events at the ancient site.

Verdict: Nobody who worries that much about parking fees can be truly new age.

My Big Fat Greek Extradition


Cuban national Julio Cesar Serrano Barreiro, who was arrested last year near Athens, will be extradited from Greece back to Cuba, where he’s accused of stealing 71 artworks from the National Museum of Fine Arts. The works, which disappeared from the museum’s storage in 2013, have been collectively valued at $575 million.

Verdict: If those pieces were so valuable, why were they just sitting in storage?

Marquis de Lafayette Disarmed

The statue of the Marquis de Lafayette in Lafayette, Indiana, which was recently relieved of its sword. (photo by @jraderstorf/Instagram)

The statue of the Marquis de Lafayette in Lafayette, Indiana, that was recently relieved of its sword (photo by @jraderstorf/Instagram)


A statue of the Marquis de Lafayette that sits atop a fountain outside the Tippecanoe County Courthouse in Lafayette, Indiana, is without its sword after a thief made off with the three-foot-long stainless steal weapon that had been bolted to the sculpture.

Verdict: Sure, it’s cool having a giant prop weapon around the house, but it’s also cumbersome and conspicuous — a double-edged sword, if you will.

Case Study House Spawns Legal Cases


Bruce and Shari Stahl, the children of Buck Stahl — for whom the iconic Case Study House #22 is named — are suing the filmmaker Steven Slomkowski over an abandoned documentary project about the house. The lawsuit comes after Slomkowski filed one of his own against the surviving Stahl siblings, alleging that they’d forced him to scrap the film following the suicide of their brother Mark]. In their lawsuit, the Stahls claim Slomkowski attempt to extort nearly $1 million from them during filming.

Verdict: Next time, Slomkowski just should try Kickstarter.

Art Thieves Succeed with Artless Diversion


Two paintings worth over £1,000 (~$1,460) were stolen from an art gallery in Nottingham, England, by thieves so painfully uncreative in their technique, it’s best you hear it directly from gallery owner Andy Welch: “A very tall guy and an overweight woman came into the shop at around 4:30pm. The woman started banging herself on the head with a plastic water bottle, which confused everyone. While this happened the guy went up the stairs. Suddenly he came charging down the stairs and out the door and at that moment the woman stopped hitting herself on the head and left too.”

Verdict: Now you know why so many museums and galleries really prohibit outside drinks.

Vandals Burn Robert Burns


A mural portrait of Robert Burns by artist Bobby McNamara in Ayrshire, Scotland, was defaced by vandals who painted a Hitler mustache on the poet. “We deeply deplore acts of vandalism of this nature which are so pointless and counterproductive,” said Robert Burns World Federation spokesperson Murdo Morrison. “But this is, in fact, approaching desecration with that mindless activity.”

Verdict: The mural may be the latest victim in the ongoing feud between Burns supporters and Dylan Thomas fanatics for non-English British poetry supremacy.

The Latest

Avatar photo

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...