Lost and Found in Williamsburg: The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Fafi Girls

Reader, if you’re the lucky sort, you could run into the work of a world-renowned artist on the streets of Williamsburg — from International graffiti artists like Banksy to local giants such as Elbow Toe and Peru Ana, everyone wants to leave their tag or a piece of work in the infamous Brooklyn nabe. We blame it on Gossip Girl. But in all seriousness, the high chances of accidentally stumbling on something cool is one of the best perks of living in such a creative hood. Well that, and having an unofficial spokesman like Todd P.

Local artist Joe Ponciano has been documenting the graffiti scene in the ‘burg for years, way before American Apparel arrived. He’s admired pieces, taken their picture and watched them come and go.

(Check out an image gallery of some of his favorites here.)

Just a few weeks back Ponciano was walking around the neighborhood with camera in hand when he stumbled into a vibrant piece of graffiti of two sexy, cartoon-like characters. One was a painting of a two-headed Japanese Geisha doll (by an artist named Koralie) and the other of a blissed-out hippy chick wearing thigh highs and pointy boots (by an artist named Fafi).

He couldn’t believe his luck; it was a masterpiece painted on a piece of fence. The funny thing about Ponciano is that he really is a lucky guy. A few years back he survived a near fatal airplane emergency. And he seems to have the uncanny knack for finding incredible objects on the streets — you wouldn’t know it but the reclaimed factory work table in his kitchen, the antique surgery light and the mirror mosaic room divider were all discarded on the sidewalk before Ponciano salvaged them.

There he was towering over it, wondering what to do. It was painted on a loose fence and looked as if someone had tried to carry it away. He called his partner Phil, and they decided to take it home, return it to the artists and prevent it from ruin. Both men were traveling that week so returning the piece of art would have to wait. While they were away a scandal ensued on graffiti blogs — Who had stolen the piece by Fafi?

It wasn’t until they tried to locate the artist a few weeks later that they realized they had been at the center of this huge controversy. They hadn’t known the value of what they had on their hands. Fafi is a Parisian street artist who has collaborated with Adidas, MAC, and Le Sportsac. She also drew the animation of Lily Allen in the video of Mark Ronson’s Kaiser Chiefs cover, “Oh My God.” Her work sells in galleries for thousands of dollars.

They found Fafi on Facebook and wrote her to say they had the piece that had gone missing and wanted to know how could they return it to her. She replied immediately, grateful, and asked if they could drop it off at her friend C.C. McGurr’s shop in Williamsburg. Scandal averted.

And C.C.? Well she couldn’t be more thrilled. She mourned the loss of the artwork one night, as she drove by the fence and saw it missing. Imagine her surprise when she found that she had inherited it. “I feel so lucky, it fits the aesthetic of my shop perfectly!” she says.

You can visit Fafi’s ladies at Fille de Joie, on 197 Grand Street thanks to Joe and Phil. Just don’t make the mistake of trying to take one home with you.

– Alicia Peyrano