Detail of the Golden Eagle statue (courtesy The World's Greatest Treasure Hunt)

Detail of the Golden Eagle statue (courtesy The World’s Greatest Treasure Hunt)

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


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.”

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...

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