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.
Sculpture of Bovine Bicyclist Bolts
A life-size sculpture of a cow titled “Cycling Moo Kay” was stolen from its spot in front of a café in Surrey and a neighboring fiberglass cow tipped over. The sculptures were among those installed throughout the county to raise money for the charity Cycling UK. A spokesperson told the Standard: “It is quite a unique piece of art and not easy to sell so why would you steal it unless you had a cow fetish?”
Verdict: The police are asking the public for cow tips.
Lawsuit Over Koons Gazing Ball Rolls On
London-based Old Masters dealer Fabrizio Moretti is suing David Zwirner and his namesake gallery for allegedly failing to deliver Jeff Koons’s sculpture “Gazing Ball (Centaur and Lapith Maiden)” (2013), which Moretti bought in 2014 for $2 million. Though he was originally seeking to recover the purchase price of the work, Moretti is now demanding $6 million in damages.
Verdict: Zwirner is onto something here — a lot of people would pay $2 million to not receive a Koons.
Former Guard Sues Metropolitan Museum
James Smith, a former guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was fired after being blamed for green marks that appeared on two statues in the Egyptian galleries he was charged with patrolling; he’s now suing the institution. Smith claims security camera footage exonerates him of the alleged vandalism.
Verdict: Setting the record straight with the museum is one thing, but will the mummy consider the security camera footage and lift its curse?
Stealing Art Is So en Vogue
Art dealer Yoneh Mizrahi stole street artist Bradley Theodore’s portrait of former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland as a glamorous skeleton off the wall of Chelsea’s Dream Downtown hotel. Less than 24 hours after the early-morning heist, the painting was delivered by messenger back to the hotel. Mizrahi has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property and grand larceny.
Verdict: The NYPD doesn’t care if you have a change of art.
Art Theft Ain’t Easy, It’s Ezekiel
A stained-glass panel depicting the prophet Ezekiel was stolen from a 16th-century chapel in Withcote, a small village in Leicestershire, UK. Experts believe someone may have commissioned the theft of the panel, which was done by Galeon Hone, one of King Henry VIII’s royal glaziers.
Verdict: These stained-glass thieves have really honed their craft.
Stolen Zebra Statue Earns Its Stripes
“Ticket to Ride,” a life-size sculpture of a zebra that was installed along an art trail in Southampton, UK, was stolen and eventually found floating in the Itchen River by a group of children during their sailing class. “I’ve found some unusual items in the river before,” sailing instructor Sam Spencer told the BBC, “but in the 18 years I’ve been sailing I’ve never found anything as remarkable as this.”
Verdict: Clearly “Ticket to Ride” wanted a ticket to sail.
Children’s Charity Jar Smashed
A glass jar created by artist Caio Locke to collect donations for Save the Children and positioned outside Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art was destroyed and its contents stolen. Passersby then began using the cracked artwork as a trashcan. Locke’s jar was due to be auctioned off to raise additional funds for the charity.
Verdict: The crooks’ lack of any kind of decency or empathy is jarring.