Art and crime reach new understanding

Art theft and forgeries come to mind first whenever “art” and “crime” happen to appear together in a sentence. But their relationship doesn’t stop at stealing objects or, in the case of forgeries, copy rights.

Take Banksy. There are people who want to have the wall whitewashed or painted over as soon as a Banksy graffiti appears on it, because it is illegal to paint on walls, and there are other folks who want to steal the wall, for it can fetch some £200K+ out of thin air. Banksy and crime not just walk hand in hand, the former torches up the latter, like lava flowing through a village.

In 2014, just a few days ago, art and crime reached a new high in their love affair.

The story begins with this art object. A skating boot with a crowbar instead of the blade.

Source: Facebook page of the artist

This object was meant to deprive its ingredients of their original function. The combination is somehow very fitting: the curves of the crowbar rhyme with the shape of the boot. Two worn-out souls have stuck together not because their “family” has any purpose or function, but because they are aesthetically attracted to each other.

The author of this object, Vasily Slonov, got known for his show of paintings Sochi series, which appeared some time ahead of the Games, and was removed by the authorities for “inciting extremism”. I wrote about it here.

Who could imagine at the time that the success of the Games would really end-up in this?


Famous or not, the show didn’t make the artist rich. He lives in a modest apartment in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. If you wonder just how exciting life can be there, here’s a performance staged by Slonov and aptly named “Partizan’s Soccer”:

As Slonov is in opposition to the Putin’s Empire, his art doesn’t sell and doesn’t get shown. He is a prolific artist, and his apartment can’t house all his art: some of it, including the Skate&Crowbar, was stored in a box just outside it.

It was from that box that the thief took the Skate and applied its crowbar to Slonov’s door.

slonov door
Source: Facebook page of the artist


Besides a few items of value that Slonov had in his flat, he lost his archive of performance photographs.

This is, perhaps, the first recorded case of art being used to steal art. 

The Skate&Crowbar object has become a new page in global art history. I wonder which gallery will recognise the fact and cash up now to cash in later.


    1. Oh, yes, it does! And if the plot is put into the general context of Putin’s Russia, and the artist’s overall oeuvre, it can thicken ) THe clip is absolutely hilarious, even if the Russian subs can’t be fully understood!

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