Entertainment & Arts

Street artist Shepard Fairey wanted for felony vandalism in Detroit

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey — the Los Angeles street artist famous for his “Hope” poster of Barack Obama — is wanted by Detroit police for felony vandalism and the destruction of property.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

How’s this for a street-art poster? Wanted: Shepard Fairey for felony vandalism and the destruction of property in Detroit. Maximum jail sentence: five years.

An arrest warrant for Fairey — the Los Angeles street artist famous for his “Hope” poster of Barack Obama — has been issued, according to a spokesman for the Detroit police. The police said that Fairey is wanted for two counts relating to the malicious destruction of property during a recent visit to the city.

The artist faces a jail sentence of up to five years and fines of several thousand dollars.

“I would hope he would do the responsible thing and get with his attorney and turn himself in,” Detroit Police Sgt. Rebecca McKay of the city’s graffiti task force said in an interview.


“The city of Detroit is battling illegal graffiti and vandalism, and we can’t just turn a blind eye to these illegal acts because it was a well-known artist who did it.”

McKay said that the alleged acts include putting up posters on private and government property. She said there are eight complainants in the investigation.

A spokesman for Fairey said Thursday the artist was unavailable for comment. Fairey reportedly was in Detroit earlier this year to work on a large mural. 

Many street artists have police records relating to vandalism and the destruction of property, and some even take pride in it. Fairey was arrested in Boston in 2009 on charges related to illegal tagging around the time of his exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston.


In 2012, Fairey received a sentence of probation and a fine for his criminal case involving the “Hope” poster. The artist admitted in 2009 that he destroyed documents and submitted false images in his legal battle with the Associated Press over the use of a 2006 AP photo of Obama as inspiration for the poster. 

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT  

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