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.
Dealer Can’t Cut Deal for Gaddafi’s Dagger
Turkish police seized an ornate, bejeweled, and carved ivory dagger that was allegedly stolen from the palace of Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan dictator. It was confiscated in Istanbul from a businessman who bought it in Libya for $4.6 million and had allegedly found a Saudi buyer willing to pay $10 million for it.
Verdict: Sounds like that businessman will see his profits slashed.
“Some Feminists” Tag Bettie Page Mural
“Stop exploiting women’s bodies — Some Feminists,” reads the discrete graffiti tagged on the side of a house in Seattle famous for its two-story-tall mural of the iconic pinup model Bettie Page. Vandals also threw paint on the giant figure’s legs.
Verdict: This might actually be a Portlandia sketch that was filmed in the wrong Pacific Northwest city.
Spanish Duo Allegedly Amassed 10,000 Artworks in 15 Robberies
One man has been arrested and another is under investigation after Spanish police raided a house in the city of Bullas, turning up an incredible trove of 5,000 rare coins, 4,000 archaeological artifacts, 40 paintings, 30 manuscripts, and more. The huge stash of artifacts is believed to have been assembled over the course of at least 15 robberies.
Verdict: What kind of home is big enough for 10,000 artifacts, anyway? Are Spanish police certain the “house” they raided wasn’t a museum?
Fight for Self-Mummified Buddhist Monk Statue
Residents of a village in Fujian, China, are suing for the return of a statue that contains the remains of a Buddhist monk who self-mummified himself around 1,000 years ago. The statute, currently being held by a Dutch collector who acquired it in the mid-1990s in Hong Kong, Oscar van Overeem, is believed to have been stolen from the village’s temple.
Verdict: There are few things less zen than holding onto an illegally obtained mummified Buddhist monk.
Feds Track Down Ad Reinhardt WPA Painting
The federal government wants “Abstraction #6” (1940), a Works Progress Administration commission that Ad Reinhardt made for a high school in Staten Island, back. The colorful abstract composition was bought at a Sotheby’s auction in 1997 by collector Myron Kaplan, but now the government is claiming ownership and threatening to sue him. The painting disappeared after being accidentally tossed in the trash during a renovation of the high school in the 1960s.
Verdict: Evidently the federal government is not familiar with the dictum, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Greek Narcos Nab Antiquities Smugglers
A bust of a 32-person crime ring in Greece — whose members included a police officer, firefighter, and three junior military officers — turned up hashish and cocaine, as well as 76 ancient coins and 38 stone and metal antiquities. The loot also included over €30,000 (~$33,760) in cash and 37 cellphones.
Verdict: Thirty-seven cellphones for a 32-person crime ring? How extravagant! No wonder they got caught.
University Art Collection May Include Ill-Gotten Divorce Spoils
The University of Notre Dame is facing a lawsuit over a collection of early American art worth $575,000 that was allegedly stolen from the late Jay Leff by his wife after he filed for a divorce. The alleged 1996 theft is the crux of a lawsuit brought by Leff’s son Scott, who claims the work was then sold to a dealer in New Mexico, who in turn sold it to Notre Dame.
Verdict: Leff better be ready for a long legal feud — they’re not called the Fighting Irish for nothing.
Juneau Who Really Made These “Native” Artifacts?
Norma M. Carandang, the co-owner of a gift shop in downtown Juneau, Alaska, pleaded guilty to two counts of misrepresenting Native-produced goods. She admitted to misleading customers (and one undercover agent) into buying inauthentic items that she claimed were made by “Alaskan Eskimo” and Tlingit/Haida Native artists.
Verdict: Another reminder of why you should buy your art from galleries, not tourist gift shops.
The Roman-era burial ground is located in Anazarbus (modern Anavarza) in the country’s southern Adana province.
Those with a Didion-shaped hole in their hearts can also bid for portraits of the author, her books, and other personal items.
The Brooklyn organization is now accepting new project inquiries for its fee-based fabrication services in printmaking, ceramics, and large-scale public art.
The union seeks a minimum wage of $20 by the end of 2024; the museum offered only $16.
Blurred Boundaries invites the viewer to recognize the ways in which queer art is not separate or other, but is actually always all around us.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
Francis De Erdely had an intuitive grasp of the inner worlds of people who were coping with a sense of displacement in their daily lives, which he conveyed in his art.
Curator Amber-Dawn Bear Robe brings together historic and contemporary Native clothing designs at Santa Fe Indian Market.
Art and photographs, publications from the 19th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, posters and more are set to cross the auction block on August 18.
As the Uru-eu-wau-wau face continued incursion by Brazilian farmers, they take an active role in this documentary about them.
Arriving amid increased anti-Asian racism and continuing discourse about the inhumanity of its prison system, this documentary is a strong historical gut punch.
A “show within a show” at the Whitney Biennial pays homage to the visual and literary art of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, whose life was cut short through an act of brutal violence.