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.
$5.3 Million Eagle Takes Flight
A one-foot-tall sculpture of an eagle made of solid gold, encrusted with 763 diamonds, and festooned with a 12.7-carat emerald salvaged from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha shipwreck was allegedly stolen from its owner and creator, Ron Shore, on the streets of Delta, British Columbia. The sculpture, which had been valued at $6.8 million CAD (~$5.3 million USD) was the centerpiece of Shore’s plan to cure breast cancer through sales of an elaborate puzzle book and international treasure hunt.
Verdict: Looks like someone finally got the treasure.
Street Artist’s Clown Caricatures No Laughing Matter
The Malaysian artist Fahmi Reza has been charged with “violating multimedia laws” over his viral street art caricatures depicting Prime Minister Najib Razak as a sinister clown. He faces up to a year in prison and fines of up to $12,200, and is also being investigated for sedition.
Verdict: Coulrophobia is real, but this is excessive.
Here Today, Gnome Tomorrow
Bring the Gnome Home!!! One of @samtufnell_contemporary_arts ‘s gnomes was taken from the front of the museum Thursday night. Help us get him back! #DelrayBeach deserves public art- we won’t let the thieves get us down. Contact us if you have information on the gnomenapping. #art #gnome #stolen #theft #artmuseum #help #samtufnell #cornellartmuseum
A photo posted by Cornell Art Museum (@cornellartmuseum) on
A glowing, crystalline sculpture of a gnome — “Power Gnome: Electric Blueberry,” to be exact, by Sam Tufnell — was stolen from its perch outside the Cornell Art Museum in Delray Beach, Florida. The thief or thieves used a ladder to reach the 35-inch-tall, pigmented resin sculpture, unbolt it, and whisk it away.
Verdict: Any day now, the museum should start receiving photos of “Power Gnome” posing in front of far-flung landmarks.
Picasso, Matisse, and Monet Mixed Up in Divorce Duel
Gina Disabatino, a Florida-based socialite, is suing Manhattan-based real estate developer Jana Bullock for allegedly helping Disabatino’s estranged husband, private art dealer Frederic Bouin, hide a collection of 57 artworks that she says she has a right to as part of their ongoing divorce dispute. The collection includes works by Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso.
Verdict: Picasso would no doubt be flattered to be the object of so much fussing.
Lego Fox Goes Extinct
A giant Lego statue of Nick, the fox character from the recent animated film Zootopia, shattered when a young boy knocked it over just an hour after it was completed. It had taken Lego artist Mr. Zhao three days to create the giant fox sculpture, which allegedly cost over 100,000 yuan (~$15,170).
Verdict: $15,000 and we don’t even have a video of the carnage?! What a waste.
Ugo Rondinone’s Technicolor Totems Tagged
“Seven Magic Mountains,” Ugo Rondinone’s sculptural installation of stacked and neon-hued boulders in the Nevada desert near Las Vegas, has been vandalized with spray-painted tags. There are no suspects.
Verdict: It may be time to update the old saying — what happens within a half-hour drive of Vegas stays within a half-hour drive of Vegas.
Subway Sculpture Smashed
A man identified by authorities simply as Serdar K. knocked a wooden sculpture off its pedestal in the İzmirspor metro station in the city of Izmir in western Turkey, and then smashed it to pieces. The sculpture, which portrayed a musician and had been installed in the station four years ago, was titled “This mind in this age.”
Verdict: A textbook case of “commuter rage.”
Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award
Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the shortlisted artists.
British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles
“With the power of blockchain technology, there will be no question who the real owner is,” said a British Museum spokesperson.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
MoMA to Co-Curate Exhibition With NYPD
Arrest Me, Daddy hopes to cast a more positive light on the work of law enforcement officers.
Repatriation-Inspired Fragrance Line Hopes to Heal Collector Wounds
The exotic scents of the Rapatriement line offer solace and joy to dismayed collectors who were forced to return looted artifacts.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist
Visitors who spoke to Hyperallergic said they were “horrified” to learn that a human could come up with such a banal and poorly executed artwork.
Prince Harry to Star in New Van Gogh Biopic
The estranged prince said he took the role to raise awareness of mental health issues.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs
A cache of 243 paintings found in an English castle, all depicting canine subjects, suggests Vermeer’s true aspiration was to become a dog portraitist.
Vatican Partners With Balenciaga on “Spiritual” Menswear Line
A spokesperson for the church cited “shared values” with the fashion brand.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Iran Issues Fatwa Against AI
A reinterpretation of the Quran through a queer lens, written by an AI chatbot, is said to cause the move.
Met Gala Announces 2023 “Looting and Plunder” Theme
Select A-list guests will be invited to wear any artifacts from the museum’s collection that have not yet been seized by the Manhattan DA’s office.
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