Street Artist Shepard Fairey Is Wanted for Vandalism in Detroit


“Hope,” the word that appeared on street artist-turned-propaganda designer Shepard Fairey’s now-famous campaign posters of Barack Obama, might be popping up more frequently in Fairey’s daily vocabulary. For example, “I hope I don’t have to spend five years in jail for vandalizing 14 different buildings in Detroit,” or, “I hope I have enough money to cover the thousands of dollars in fines that I’m facing.”

Fairey is a wanted man in Motor City, where he was charged in June with two felony counts of malicious destruction of property. The artist was in the city at the behest of Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, to create a commissioned 18-story mural on one of Gilbert’s other businesses. Per the city’s police, Fairey caused over $9,000 in damage this past May by pasting unsanctioned posters (of his trademark Andre the Giant variety) onto various edifices across the city. He was apprehended July 6 at LAX upon returning to L.A. from Europe; when he passed through customs, authorities noticed an outstanding arrest warrant issued by the Detroit Law Department.

Shepard getting a 15′ icon up in #Detroit. #obeygiant #shepardfairey

A photo posted by Shepard Fairey (@obeygiant) on

Even so, the Detroit police force won’t be extraditing Fairey—after spending a night in jail, he was released. “If it’s a violent crime, yes, we’re going to pick up,” Detroit police officer Dan Donakowski said to the Los Angeles Times Monday. “In terms of graffiti, it’s not as high as a murder or rape or something.” The DPD are instead in talks with Fairey as to when he will return to the city and face the charges. According to the Detroit News, if Fairey is convicted, he faces “up to five years in prison and a fine three times the monetary damage of the crime.”

This isn’t the first time Fairey has gotten tangled up with the law; in 2012, he was involved in a copyright battle with the AP over those same Obama posters. Fairey denied that he based his rendering of Obama off of an Associated Press photograph. Spoiler alert: he lied. He was sentenced in federal court to two years of probation and a $25,000 fine.

We hope everything works out this time around, pal.