The most famous — and valuable — "vandalism" in Utah has now itself been vandalized and police in Park City are hunting for the perpetrator.
A pair of Banksy artworks in Park City were vandalized some time during the last days of 2013, according to Park City Sgt. Jay Randall. The damage was discovered Dec. 31 about 8:30 a.m. by a passer-by.
Randall said the passer-by first noticed smashed glass over an image of a cameraman with a flower on the side of the Java Cow building, at 402 Main St. The glass, which had been installed to protect the art, showed several impact marks, though the vandal was unable to remove the glass and the art itself was undamaged.
But the vandal had more success down the street, where he managed to smash and remove the protective glass over another artwork at 537 Main St. Randall said the vandal then spray-painted over that artwork.
After studying surveillance footage, police believe the vandal was a white male who wore a baseball cap while committing the crimes. Randall said it appears the man used a hammer to strike the glass.
The damage is a loss for the community, which Randall said prides itself on its appreciation for art.
Kira Withrow, an assistant manager at Java Cow, said she often sees people outside admiring and photographing the art, which she characterized as a "neat attraction." Withrow called the vandalism of the Banksy works "disappointing."
However, the nature of the art also complicates the case. Banksy, the world’s most famous graffiti artist, painted the pieces in 2010 just before screenings of "Exit Through the Gift Shop," a film that highlighted his work. The art apparently went up without the owners’ permission, but they quickly became something of a tourist draw in the ritzy ski town.
Banksy’s identity also is famously unknown, though his art sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars when it goes to auction.
All of which makes it difficult to put a value on the damage to the Park City pieces. Despite the technically illegal origins of the art, owners of the buildings have invested money in protecting the images, which could factor into the valuation of the art and the damage.
Randall said his department is approaching the case as a criminal mischief investigation and valuing the damaged art at about $15,000, though a judge ultimately will determine exactly how much it should cost and how much damage was done. Randall also said he didn’t know if the damaged art could be salvaged.
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call the Park City Police Department at 435-615-5500.
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