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Crimes of the Art

Yasmeen Sabri's sculpture "Walk a Mile in Her Veil" prior to being attacked (screenshot by the author via @Yas2Y/Twitter)
Yasmeen Sabri’s sculpture “Walk a Mile in Her Veil” prior to being attacked (screenshot by the author via @Yas2Y/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.

Angered By Hijab Artwork, Drunk Brexit Supporter Beaks It

crimes-of-the-art-scream-4A drunken 70-year-old named Mikaela Haze reportedly yelled “Saudi Arabia go home” before attacking “Walk a Mile in Her Veil,” an artwork by Yasmeen Sabri, at the Royal College of Art. The work consisted of a hijab draped over a wire frame that visitors were invited to put on to experience the world as seen through a veil; Haze pushed it over after adding: “We voted to take our country back.”

Verdict: The European Union must be relieved that it will soon no longer have to count Haze among its citizens.

Authenticator Absconds with Unverified da Vinci

crimes-of-the-art-scream-4An art expert in Bordeaux, who had been approached by an octogenarian looking to have a drawing left to her by her father — a drawing of a woman in profile signed Leonardo da Vinci — authenticated, disappeared with the possibly extremely valuable artwork.

Verdict: It’s not exactly a certificate of authenticity, but at least now we know that it’s probably a real da Vinci.

Grabby Visitors Get the Gettysburg Curse

crimes-of-the-art-scream-4According to a recent blog post by Maria Brady, a park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park, the park regularly receives packages containing rocks that unscrupulous visitors took from the historic battlefield and, after experiencing sudden onslaughts of misfortune, decided to return. “We didn’t know then how the removal of those stones would affect our lives and we didn’t know that they were cursed,” reads one letter accompanying such a package. “It wasn’t long after that that our lives fell apart. My wife took my son and walked out on me. I lost my house and majority of what I owned and ended up in prison for nine years.”

Verdict: This is why you don’t steal from places where tens of thousands of people were killed.

Auction Houses Sue Celebrity Appraiser Brothers

crimes-of-the-art-scream-3The so-called “Keno Brothers” — Leslie and Leigh Keno, former specialists at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, respectively, and fixtures of all 20 seasons of Antiques Roadshow — were sued by New Orleans Auction Galleries and Kamelot Auctions for bidding against each other on items until they reached sums many times their pre-sale estimates, and then failing to pay for the lots they’d won. The Kenos bought 244 items in a New Orleans Auction Galleries sale in April, racking up a $400,000 bill, and then in May bought 89 items during a sale at Kamelot Auctions before failing to pay a bill of nearly $200,000.

Verdict: Sounds more like an antiques gong show to me.

Entire Exhibition Disappears in Transit

crimes-of-the-art-scream-2Swedish street artist Herr Nilsson was due to open a solo show last week at London gallery Lights of Soho, but his shipment was stolen somewhere between Sweden and Britain. Some £100,000 (~$131,000) worth of works destined for the exhibition, which has been canceled but was due to be titled Fill the World with Sunshine, included a piece called “The Kiss” that featured Snow White and Queen Elisabeth II embracing.

Verdict: Such news fills the world with sadness.

Istanbul Cops Seize 2,000-Year-Old Aphrodite Statue

crimes-of-the-art-scream-3Two men have been detained by Istanbul police for attempting to sell more than a dozen artifacts believed to have been obtained through illegal excavations, including a sculpture of Aphrodite said to date 2,000 years ago. The pair had been trying to offload the loot for 1 million Turkish lira (~$327,000) when they were busted.

Verdict: What a coup for the Turkish authorities (too soon?).

Legal Trouble for Architecture for Humanity

crimes-of-the-art-scream-2The co-founders of humanitarian design nonprofit Architecture for Humanity, Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr, are being sued, along with 10 members of the organization’s board of directors, for inappropriate use of “restricted funds” and for violating agreements made with donors. The lawsuit was brought by a court-appointed trustee, Janina M. Hoskins, who is seeking $3 million (Architecture for Humanity abruptly ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy in 2015).

Verdict: Between this and the bankruptcy, Architecture for Humanity is starting to look like a house of cards.

Bar Serves Up Knockoffs of Hipsterized Historical Portraits

crimes-of-the-art-scream-1Israeli art dealer Yair Osheroff is preparing to sue the new Toronto bar Early Mercy over artworks included in its décor — portraits of modern historical figures including JFK, Che Guevara, and Nelson Mandela as fedora-wearing, mustache-waxing, tattooed hipsters — that appear to be unauthorized copies of this Hipstory series by artist Amit Shimoni, whom Osheroff represents. The company that designed the bar’s interior credits the offending portraits to Canadian tattoo artist Zimmo Lu.

Verdict: Early Mercy and Zimmo Lu had better get their hipstory straight.

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