This morning, we learned that one of the most successful artists in the world had been arrested. No, Shepard Fairey didn’t get nabbed wheatpasting again. The perp in question is… Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light. You know, the guy who does those folksy landscapes your great-aunt likes and has his own store at the mall. Kinkade was arrested in Carmel, CA Friday night for DUI. The man of the people was driving a Mercedes Benz. And have you seen the shirt he was wearing?
This incredibly random arrest got us thinking about some of the other strange artist arrests we’ve read about in the past year. Our five favorites, including everyone from Damien Hirst to a guy who stole his own paintings from his ex-wife, are after the jump.
The boy who stole Damien Hirst’s pencils
Damien Hirst’s “Pharmacy,” 1992. Installation view. Image via C4 Contemporary Art
When is it news that a 17-year-old graffiti artist has stolen pencils? Well, how about when the pencils in question are capped with condoms and are worth £500,000 as part of a Damien Hirst exhibition? That’s exactly what Cartrain did about a year ago at the Tate. He then held the pencils ransom and created a hilarious Wanted poster: “For the safe return of Damien Hirst’s pencils I would like my artworks back that DACS and Hirst took off me in November… Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31 July the pencils will be sharpened.” By September, he had been arrested and released on bail. The heist was intended as revenge, since Hirst had legally prevented Cartrain from selling collages that included images of Hirst’s For the Love of God (better known as “That Crazy Diamond-Encrusted Skull”).
The artist who painted Putin in a dress
Image via The Daily Mail
One of the great freedoms we, as Americans, enjoy is the right to lampoon our leaders however we see fit. (Well, as long as we don’t threaten or defame them.) Russian artists aren’t so lucky. Last June, Alexander Shednov was arrested for painting the head of Vladimir Putin on the body of a young woman in a sexy dress with big earrings, saying “Oh I don’t know – a third Presidential term? It is a bit too much….on the other hand, three is a charm.” The artist wanted to project the image on a government building in Voronezh on Russian Independence Day, but authorities intervened before he could do it. Shednov claims he had to endure seven hours of questioning and beatings.
The street artist who was arrested at his own exhibition
Billboard by Revok, Rime, and Augor. Image via Revok1.com.
Ever wonder why graffiti artists are afraid to show their faces? Perhaps it’s because they can’t appear at their own shows without getting thrown in the back of a cop car. Back in November, Jason Williams, a.k.a. Revok, “was arrested on suspicion of possessing vandalism tools, possessing a counterfeit badge and receiving stolen property.” And since he was on probation at the time, police had searched his home.
The artist who was arrested for stealing his own paintings
Flores’ “Primitive Rider Series,” oil on canvas. Image via Floresartnewyork.com
What’s worse than being nabbed at your own show? How about going to jail for stealing your own paintings? That’s what happened last summer, when artist and gallery owner Frankie Flores kidnapped his work from Luisa’s Italian Bistro in Moreau, New York. Here’s what happened: The restaurant was owned by his ex-wife’s family. No further explanation needed.
The outsider artist who was arrested for creating a wonderful Traffic Barrel Monster
Image via Jalopnik
A 21-year-old college student named Joseph Carnevale ran off with some orange barrels from a construction site and transformed them into this delightful monster. He caused a whole $360 worth of damage, which he paid off via 50 hours of community service (which apparently pays minimum wage). Meanwhile, the company that produced the barrels wasn’t even upset at Carnevale. “If we’d known he’d do that good of work, we’d have given him the barrels,” they said. Yes, but where’s the fun in that?