Man Charged With Vandalizing Artful Vandalism

Damaging the work of street artist Banksy yields a charge of criminal mischief.

Vandalism, like beauty, is apparently in the eye of the beholder.

Prosecutors in Park City, Utah, are charging a man who they allege defaced two works of graffiti by Banksy, the elusive British street artist, with criminal mischief, a second-degree felony.

"It's not every day I get to prosecute somebody for vandalizing graffiti," Matthew Bates, lead prosecutor, told the Wall Street Journal.

According to prosecutors, David William Noll shattered the glass protecting the Banksy murals in Park City on New Year’s Eve, and then further damaged one of the works, an image of a boy praying on his knees, with dark brown paint. Noll faces a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison; according to Bates, a plea deal is being negotiated, with a hearing scheduled for September 15. Police say they have video of Noll at the scene of the alleged crime.

In a television interview with a local California station shortly after prosecutors charged him with the crime, Noll said he supports only “commissioned” graffiti.

The murals appeared on Park City’s main street in 2010, after Banksy attended the Sundance Festival on behalf of “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” the “mockumentary” he starred in and helped produce. Both local property owners, recognizing the value of a Banksy work, paid to protect the murals with glass, as others have done in cities around the world--one Brooklyn property owner even installed a metal gate and hired guards. Banksy's solo works have sold at auction for as much as $1.3 million; a collaboration with artist Damien Hirst sold for $1.9 million.

[h/t the Wall Street Journal]

[Photo: Flickr user Insapphowetrust]

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5 Comments

  • Dw Dunphy

    What's the British term for this? Oh, yeah..."bollocks." You cannot vandalize vandalization. As respected as Banksy is, he doesn't paint with permission, nor should he be expected to. That's the gist of his work. Going after the "framer" because they can, in supposed defense of the Banksy stuff, shows intense hypocrisy and an outright disregard to the letter of the law. In that, if they have chosen to disregard the illegal initial activity, they should be bound to extend that same principle across the board.

    ...and then they should quit because they utterly fail at what they do. Again: bollocks.

  • Except... The work was on private property. The property owner, instead of pressing charges, decided to accept and even guard the mural. Meaning that, since Banksy made no claim to ownership, it belonged to the owner of the property. And since Banksy's other works sell for so much, this particular vandal cost the owner of that property a significant amount of money. He broke both the letter and the spirit of the law.

    If it had been on public property, and the government had not laid claim to it, it would be an entirely different matter.

  • Gah - I doubt Banksy got written approval. This is the big wigs having their cake and eating it too. It would be funny if Banksy bailed the guy out! Im sure he has a little scratch left over from his 1.3 million dollar art sale.