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July 18th, 2011

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A writing instrument can now be added to the Partial Guide to the Tools of Art Vandalism…

The security woes for the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris continue after it was discovered this week that Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Cadillac Moon 1981 (pictured at right),” which is currently on loan to the museum for its Basquiat retrospective exhibition, was defaced by a felt-tip pen. The Daily Mail’s Peter Allen reports that the museum does not know when the iconic work was defaced. According to Fabrice Hergott, the museum’s director and the Basquiat exhibition’s chief curator, “Cadillac Moon 1981” was “one of the best protected works in the exhibition. There is a permanent guard, as there is with all exhibitions, but we had a special reinforcement of guards for this one.” Evidently, there is a gap between the museum’s sense of security and the effectiveness of the measures it has implemented to secure its collection.
Individuals and institutions with works on loan to the museum must be eager for the safe return of their works of art. The art theft in May, which resulted from inadequate security, coupled with the recent act of vandalism, which involved a famous work on loan to the museum, will likely discourage future loans until the museum upgrades its current security and facilities assessments, and makes the necessary adjustments to better protect the museum’s contents.

November 11th, 2010

Posted In: vandalism

Third incident of vandalism hits ArtPrize

Published: Sunday, October 03, 2010, 6:52 PM Updated: Sunday, October 03, 2010, 8:14 PM

John Tunison | The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS — In the third instance of ArtPrize vandalism, Joseph Wambaugh, the creator of a butterfly sculpture behind DeVos Place, says someone tossed a ceramic sphere-shaped segment of the insect’s body into the Grand River.

Wambaugh, Allendale, who spent three months making the colorful butterfly, figures the sphere cost about $250.

The damage comes after someone last week slashed the canvas-like material used in a 30-foot tall greeting card in the B.O.B. parking lot, and the Sept. 17 theft of a 10-pound globe from the driftwood sculpture “A Matter of Time” near the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

The greeting card damage likely happened late Thursday or early Friday, while Wambaugh thinks his piece was vandalized Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

“I just don’t understand it,” said Wambaugh, a recent Grand Valley State University graduate with a fine arts degree. “This is my first real project being out on my own. That makes it really disappointing to have stuff broken.”

The butterfly is supposed to have three ceramic spheres, tucked inside a metal frame, for the body parts. Now, only two are left after someone swiped the head and tossed it in the adjacent river.

Wambaugh said he could see the broken sphere in the river current last week, but it since has washed away. He moved one of the remaining spheres to the head position and left the middle slot vacant.

Wambaugh secured the head with a clamp and cable to stop anyone else from tampering with it.

It wasn’t the first time he had to fix the sculpture. The night before ArtPrize began on Sept. 22, high winds that damaged other outdoor pieces also cracked two of the spheres when they fell to the concrete. He managed to glue one sphere back together and replace the other with an extra sphere he had at home.

Wambaugh expects to participate in next year’s ArtPrize, but said he’ll take into account the possibility for vandalism.

“I’ll definitely take more steps to protect it, and possibly look for an indoor venue,” he said.

October 4th, 2010

Posted In: vandalism

Vandals strike N. Arizona archaeological site

Posted: 09/16/2010

• By: Associated Press
WILLIAMS, AZ – Archaeologists are assessing damage to a 1,000 year-old rock art panel in a northern Arizona forest.

A hiker reported the damage last month at the Kaibab National Forest’s Keyhole Sink, named for the keyhole-shaped lava flow.

The word “ACE” is written in what appears to be white paint over the rock art, known as petroglyphs. Kaibab archaeologist Neil Weintraub said Thursday that it’s often difficult to catch those responsible for defacing petroglyphs.

“This senseless act not only damaged the fragile rock art, it degraded a special place enjoyed by several thousand visitors each year,” he said.

Individuals with information regarding the crime are asked to contact the Williams District Ranger.

The petroglyphs are protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. If the damage is more than $500, the penalty for a first offense is up to two years in prison and $20,000 in fines, forest officials said. A second offense carries penalties of up to five years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

The lava flow was defaced four years ago when vandals scratched names on it, which later were rubbed out. Weintraub said the petroglyphs weren’t affected.

Margaret Hangan, heritage program manager for the forest, said Keyhole Sink is one of the only sites in northern Arizona where hikers can learn about petroglyphs and is listed in several guide books.

The forest has offered guided tours during archaeology month in March to see the petroglyphs and an adjacent waterfall created by snow melt, she said.

Archaeologists refer to the prehistoric cultural group that made the petroglyphs as the Cohonina, likely ancestors of the Hopi, Hualapai and Havasupai tribes that inhabited the Parks area, Hangan said. The bear paws, snakes and lizards in the rock art panel are similar to Hopi clan symbols. The panel also depicts an ancient hunting scene.

September 20th, 2010

Posted In: vandalism

8/31/2010 2:23:00 PM
Petroglyphs Vandalized
Williams-Grand Canyon News

WILLIAMS – A hiker reported Aug. 26 that vandals defaced the main rock art panel at Keyhole Sink on the Kaibab National Forest. Keyhole Sink is a popular interpretive site open to the public and visited by many.

Petroglyphs at the site date back at least a thousand years. The site remains open to the public so that people can learn about the history of the area and enjoy the unique setting.

Since the vandalism was reported, the Forest Service has documented the damage and is assessing its monetary value, in accordance with the

Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.

Kaibab National Forest Archaeologist Erin Woodard said the petroglyph vandalism is unfortunate.

“Many of us in the Southwest enjoy the rich historic culture of the area,” Woodard said. “Non-renewable, historic resources, such as petroglyphs and pictographs, can be easily damaged. So, it is important that each visitor to national forests be respectful of the cultural resources in the area and leave them as found for future generations to enjoy.”

Individuals with information regarding this incident can contact Martie Schramm, Williams District Ranger, at (928) 635-5630.

September 2nd, 2010

Posted In: vandalism

Multi-million dollar Lafayette Square eye sculpture vandalized

Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 10:40 AM Updated: Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 11:28 AM

Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune

After three years of turning heads on Lafayette Square, a valuable sculpture is leaving the city as a crime victim

Call it another black eye for New Orleans. On the night of July 15, a thief pried the bronze corneas from that set of giant disembodied eyeballs that have stood sentinel on the Camp Street side of Lafayette Square since February 2007.

Jennifer Zdon / The Times-Picayune ArchiveJack Zimmerman makes use of the Louise Bourgeois sculpture ‘Eye Benches IV.’ Last month, the bronze grates that protect the lights were stolen.
Did the crowbar-wielding crook realize he was defacing a work of art valued at $2.7 million that any city in the world would cherish? When he felt the metal parts bend then break away from their moorings, did the thief realize the sculpture had been loaned to the people of New Orleans by one of the 20th century’s most renowned artists as a gesture of post-Katrina goodwill or that the elderly artist had covered the $45,000 in shipping and installation costs to get it here?

As he slipped away into the summer night, did the petty criminal know that the artist had died just weeks earlier, making the sculpture an even more poignant and precious landmark?

Probably not.

The stolen bronze parts, about the size of dinner plates, were described in the police report as “six concentric circles held together with an X bracket.” Like bronze barricades they protected the lighted corneas that shine like beacons toward the federal courthouse across the busy street. No sane art thief would deface a set of modern sculptures for an aesthetically irrelevant pair of metal grids. A vandal bent on defacing the artwork for whatever antisocial reason would have left the heavy, incriminating grids at the scene, right? Deviant logic further dictates that a vandal would have broken the glass corneas beneath the grids.

All things considered, it’s safe to suppose this cultural crime was committed for the same reason that bronze sculpture disappeared from the studio of New Orleans’ late great sculptor John Scott in 2006, and aluminum sculpture disappeared from New Orleans sculptor Lin Emery’s studio in March — the illicit search for scrap metal to sell.

Sights for sore eyes

Michael Manjarris, an abundantly energetic Texan, and Peter Lundberg, an equally ambitious Vermonter, share a passion for placing art in public places. Both men are sculptors and sculpture park designers. Together and separately, they’ve spent their careers installing hundreds of sculptures around the world.

After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, New Orleans-born Manjarris was called on by Crescent City benefactors to bring his art-wrangling expertise to his blighted hometown, where they believed stirring examples of modern art would be a welcome distraction for people during the dreary rebuilding process. Manjarris agreed to try to convince artists to loan work to the crippled city and Lundberg volunteered to partner in the project. In November 2005 an altruistic endeavor called Sculpture for New Orleans was born, resulting in 50 sculptures on display throughout the city to date.

Few rival the value or art-history significance of the eyes on Lafayette Square, by Louise Bourgeois.

Bourgeois, who was born in Paris but lived for most of her life in New York, began her career as an artist in the 1950s, when popular sculpture was mostly hard-edged and humorless. Her sometimes naughty, sometimes icky, and always weird artwork eventually earned her a place in the pantheon of international art deities. New Orleanians may even recognize her name: She made that gigantic creepy spider that stalks the far reaches of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park.

So her big shining eyes — titled “Eye Benches IV” — were a welcome sight in Lafayette Square, where passersby could sit for a spell on the built-in benches at the back of the eyeballs.

Bourgeois was 95 when her the sculpture was lent to New Orleans. She was 98 when she died in May.

The beginning of the end

Two months later, police were notified of the theft by Federal Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan, who is a founding member of the Lafayette Square Conservancy, a post-Katrina organization bent on keeping the city’s second-oldest city square beautiful. She personally visited a couple of scrap yards to search for the stolen grids, but had no luck.

Doug MacCash / The Times-PicayuneA flyer posted in Lafayette Square offers a reward.
Manjarris arranged for a flyer to be posted near the “Eye Benches” offering a reward for information on the crime. No one responded. He also set about arranging for a bronze cornea transplant.

The “Eye Benches” were insured, and Manjarris said by e-mail last month that he was raising the $2,500 deductible so that the grids could be remade. But the folks at the Bourgeois studio, who last spring had paid to repair one of the eye grids after it was bent by vandals, said the insurance claim wouldn’t be necessary. That was the good news. The bad news: They began the process of moving the sculpture back to New York.

The “Eyes” were scheduled to stay in the city for only 12 months, but Bourgeois’ studio managers decided to let the sculpture stay for more than twice that long.

Now a street scavenger’s lust for scrap metal is sending the sculpture away. The eyes will beam their light across Camp Street until after Labor Day, which falls just eight days after the fifth anniversary of the devastating storm and flood they helped us see past.

Manjarris and others recall that the original insurance value of “Eye Benches IV” was $800,000. But recently, when Lafayette Square Conservancy board member Babs Johnson suggested raising money to buy sculpture, the Bourgeois studio revealed that the current retail price of the piece is $2.7 million.

Scrap dealers that I consulted by phone said bronze is fetching from $1.30 to $1.70 per pound.

Eye Benches IV

What: A bronze scultpture by Louise Bourgeois Where: Lafayette Square, Camp Street side

When: The sculpture was placed in New Orleans as part of the public art project Sculpture for New Orleans in Feburary 2007.

Value: $800,000 at the time of its placement; after Bourgeois’ death in May at age 98, the work appraised at $2.7 million.

August 11th, 2010

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June 20th, 2010

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Value of public art in vandalism cases an unclear issue

Friday, June 11, 2010
By Erin Hevern ~ Southeast Missourian

Paul Schock stands next to his sculpture with a panel missing due to vandalism.
(Fred Lynch)
[Click to enlarge] [Order this photo]
For Scott City artist and businessman Paul Schock, putting up a second sculpture in the city’s downtown district took a bit of courage. Schock’s first sculpture that appeared for public viewing — a piece he calls “The Totem of Birds” — was vandalized by a patron of his pub in August.

The perpetrator, Stephen M. Pind, a Scott City resident currently serving in the military, was convicted of second-degree property damage, a misdemeanor, for punching and breaking a glass panel on the piece. The shattered glass also scratched paint on another glass panel.

Pind was ordered to undergo a year of unsupervised probation and pay restitution of $750.

Pind’s sentence isn’t acceptable, Schock said, with the ruling questioning the value of public art.

“I put around 600 hours into that sculpture, and galleries estimated it at $15,000. I was just asking for half that,” Schock said.

In addition, lawyers and experts dealing with crimes against art say it’s surprising U.S. laws protecting and conserving the arts have only been scrutinized in recent years.

At a March 24 plea and restitution hearing, Schock presented to the judge estimates from well-established galleries, including Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, an internationally known gallery in Kansas City.

The judge didn’t allow the letters illustrating the sculpture’s value to be admitted into evidence because the authors didn’t appear at the hearing in person, according to Schock.

Also, while discussing a proper amount of restitution, Schock said defense lawyers questioned his credibility as an artist and the cost of replacing the broken glass panel.

“I’ve been an international artist since 1990, and it’s a one-of-a-kind art piece,” Schock said. “If someone slices the Mona Lisa, you just don’t pay for the materials. It can’t be replaced.”

Scott County assistant prosecuting attorney Austin Crowe didn’t return phone calls to comment on the case.

Mark Durney, business director of the not-for-profit think tank the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art, said the United States has only recently began to review sentencing guidelines for crimes against art. Durney has seen cases involving stolen or damaged art most often handled as property crimes rather than as crimes against culture.

“A work is assigned greater value as it evokes a greater degree of feelings and emotions from viewers and connoisseurs. Some elements to consider are, does one use an auction value estimate, an insurer’s appraisal estimate, an independent sale price or the repair cost?” Durney said. “These elements coupled with the inherent instability in the art market make it difficult to assign compensation. I think many court rulings will err on the side of conservative estimates.”

Michael Kahn, who works with copyright law as a partner with the Bryan Cave LLP law firm in St. Louis, said that in many cases, the valuation of an art piece that’s been damaged will occur in a civil case rather than a criminal case.

In a criminal case, “the focus of the court is really more on punishment than the restitution,” said Kahn, who has represented numerous artists, photographers and musicians.

An artwork’s value is most often disputed, according to Kahn, in divorce cases and bankruptcy cases.

“The law views art as property, and to a lot of artists and art dealers it’s a commodity. There are experts who deal with this all the time,” Kahn said. “There’s the value of the art itself, and there’s the value of the copyright in the art.”

Although Schock has considered filing a civil suit, he said it wouldn’t be possible while Pind is on active duty in the military. So, for now, the sculpture will remain outside Schock’s Pub. Although he’s received the money Pind was ordered to pay, Schock plans to leave it damaged.

“I’m letting it stay as it is, as a constant reminder, so people know that it’s a vandalized piece,” Schock said.

Scott City High School art instructor Matt Miller said that although public art is always at risk of being damaged, it’s important to share with the community. In May, Miller set up a sculpture garden consisting of six pieces at Hunter Valley Winery. Miller hopes to add more pieces if the community reaction is positive.

“I used to be more worried about vandalism. You kind of just have to let go; otherwise, you punish all the art lovers for the one or two people who are going to act like idiots,” Miller said. “Is it not worth taking the risk?”


Pertinent address:

16 E. Hickory St., Scott City, MO

June 12th, 2010

Posted In: vandalism