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This Week in Art Crime


Spanish Police have arrested two brothers from Girona, Spain, who attempted to sell a fake Francisco de Goya painting to a purported sheikh, EFE reports. But the “sheikh” was no victim: he paid the pair with photocopied money.

The con artists realized they had been tricked when they tried to deposit 1.7 million Swiss francs (€1.5 million) in a Geneva bank and were told that the banknotes were mere photocopies.

Spanish police officers found out about the scam in December 2014, when the Avignon customs warned them that they had intercepted two Spanish brothers trying to smuggle 1.7 million fake Swiss francs.

The sheikh had purportedly agreed to pay a total of €4 million for the Goya painting, entitled Portrait of don Antonio María Esquivel. The first batch of cash was to be collected in Turin, and was delivered by a middleman from the prince’s entourage. Apparently, the brothers verified the cash was legit with a machine, but the middleman managed to switch it before they left for Switzerland.

To add insult to injury, the brothers had also given a €300,000 premium to the middleman who had introduced them to the sheikh. In order to do so, they had asked a friend to lend them the money, promising to give it back the following day, with an extra €80,000.


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Terrifying Robot Update, February 24, 2015

Wow I feel better cared for already

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the video received an unexpected backlash after people began complaining that the ‘dog’ in the clip had been mistreated. 

During the footage, employees are seen kicking Spot to prove how stable the machine is on its feet, but this has been dubbed ‘cruel’, ‘wrong’ and has even raised concerns about robotic ethics.

The four-legged, 160lb (73kg) robo-pet can run, climb stairs, jog next to its owner and correct its balance on uneven terrain, and when kicked. 

It was built by Google-owned Boston Dynamics and is the ‘little brother’ of the firm’s larger Cujo, or ‘big dog’. 

Boston Dynamics has not revealed what Spot will be used for, but its video showed the robot-animal climbing up and down hills, walking through offices and, of course, being kicked repeatedly.


Yeah, the ethical question about making a 160lb robot dog that can run and climb for a Google owned military robotics manufacturer is whether, after having built such a thing, kicking it is cruelty. Thank god for ethics in science journalism

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No no nope fuck this no

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The Tomatan is a backpack that can be loaded with six midsize tomatoes — enough, say the makers, to power runners through this weekend’s Tokyo Marathon.

“Tomatoes have lots of nutrition that combats fatigue,” Shigenori Suzuki of Kagome said Thursday.

The Tomatan looks like a small humanoid robot, with a tomato for a head, and sits snugly on the athlete’s shoulders. Tugging a tiny lever in the foot moves the arms to catch a tomato from the dispensing chute. The arms then rotate the fruit over the runner’s head and hold it in front of his mouth.


Actually to be honest I think that’s kind of adora…



Un(der)seen Cinema: November

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Hito Steyerl and Andrea Wolf grew up together in Germany, celebrating the dangerous on-screen women who made short work of the men who dared step to them. The films called them, “villains”, but Wolf and Steyerl made feminist revenge fantasies in their honor. Prompted by the discovery that Wolf, who joined the Kurdish revolutionary army and took on the name Sehît Ronahî, had been captured and killed by Turkish troops, Steyerl’s 2004 film November draws the threads between their cinematic loves and the means by which her friend became a symbol and comrades become martyrs.

November is a self-reflexive video that examines the role of images in the post-revolutionary moment, primarily through the figure of Andrea Wolf, a friend of the artist’s from her teenage years who eventually fought alongside Kurdish rebels. Undertaking the question of what is nowadays called terrorism and used to be called internationalism once, the film’s starting point is a feminist martial arts flick the artist and Wolf shot in the Eighties, when they were 17 years old, on Super-8 stock. Now this fictional material has suddenly become a document, questioning the notion of political memory when revolution seems to be over and only its gestures keep circulating.

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Watch November here


This Week in Art Crime


How did you end up working at crime scenes?

Aleksandrija Ajdukovic: Reportage photography has always been my great love. But reportage photography is not what it used to be, especially when it comes to daily newspapers. As a photojournalist you have a small level of autonomy—the photos you take are published in order to illustrate what journalists or editors want you to say. They rarely end up representing what you actually see on the field.

Additionally, reporting from crime scenes wouldn’t have been my choice, but at dailies, the photographers who don’t own amazing equipment are usually either asked to do crime or celebrities. As I am not interested in celebrities at all, I turned to crime.

How did Crime Scene come about?
Readers want to see blood and tears. The headlines next to crime scene photos usually include words like fear,sadness, or disbelief. Then there is also what I like to call death tourism—taking photos next to certain objects or at locations where a death has occurred. So I thought I should try to insert myself in these scenes and see how people react to that.

The reason why you can seem me smiling in most of these shots is because laughing in the face of death is a natural reaction. Many people tend to laugh and smile when they feel pain or discomfort—it’s an automatic defense mechanism.



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An untitled fountain by the late conceptual artist Michael Asher, created for the university’s Stuart Collection of site-specific art, was reduced to rubble earlier this month when a masked vigilante wielding a sledgehammer rampaged through the campus, San Diego 6 reported.

During his spree, the perpetrator also broke eight surveillance cameras surrounding the campus’ Mandeville Center and left behind a message scrawled in golden spray paint that read: “YOU CAN PAINT OVER ME YOU CAN CATCH ME YOU CAN EXPELL [sic] ME I WILL STILL BE HERE.”

The sculpture, a granite and steel replica of a generic indoor drinking fountain, subverted the conventions of outdoor fountain design while also serving a practical function for thirsty students. “Many people have a drink out of this fountain without realizing it’s art,” Stuart Collection Director Mary Beebe says in a video about the sculpture.



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French archaeologists protesting the privatisation of their profession gave visitors free entry to the renowned Louvre museum in Paris Thursday.

Around 100 protesters blocked the ticketing area for around four hours in the afternoon, said union member Fabrice Marty.

Visitors, who normally pay 12 euros ($13) to see the Louvre’s collection of masterpieces, were therefore allowed to enter the museum for free, he said.

A sign posted on a ticket counter window read: “Free entrance offered by the archaeologists”.

The protesters denounced “the threats to the protection of archaeological heritage sites.”

“For more than 10 years, the privatisation and commercialisation of this sector has led to a catastrophic situation,” said a group of unions in a statement.


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A convicted tax evader and trout poacher who escaped from the San Francisco federal building last week while awaiting trial on charges connected to his refusal to pay for an $11 million art purchase was arrested Wednesday in Los Gatos, authorities said.

Luke Brugnara, 51, was spotted leaving a Los Gatos apartment in a car with a “female associate” about 10:30 a.m., said Deputy U.S. Marshal Joseph Palmer. The car was pulled over and Brugnara, the passenger, initially gave a false name, but he was arrested without incident after nearly a week on the lam, Palmer said.

Brugnara had been granted time to meet with his lawyer last Thursday in a lounge for attorneys on the 18th floor of the building on Golden Gate Avenue, authorities said. But Brugnara vanished, his attorney Erik Babcock told marshals. Babcock has not responded to a request for comment.


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A giant anti-police message spray-painted above one of the Southland’s busiest freeways has prompted outrage from drivers and officers alike.

The stenciled and shaded graffiti was put up above the southbound lanes of the 101 Freeway near Vine Street in Hollywood.

As CBS2’s Peter Daut reports, the large graffiti display was seen by drivers Wednesday, but police and Caltrans were unaware of it until contacted by CBS2.

“That’s awful! They should never have wrote that about cops,” said Chase Ahl, a motorist.

Los Angeles police Officer Jack Richter told Daut the city spends tens of millions of dollars each year to clean up graffiti.

But, he says, this message is unusual both in size and subject.

“It’s very offensive to me as a police officer,” he said.

Richter says whoever sprayed the words will face felony vandalism charges

“You want to be an artist? Buy a canvas,” he added.