Shepard Fairey Appears in Detroit Court

The judge is not impressed with the street artist.

Shepard Fairey in court. Photo: Tanya Moutzalias, courtesy Michigan Live.

Street artist Shepard Fairey, facing felony charges on two counts of malicious destruction of property, made a brief court appearance in Detroit on Friday.

The case against him stems from nine illegal pastings Fairey allegedly created earlier this year while he was in town to create a massive mural. During his visit, the artist spoke openly to the Detroit Free Press about how he still creates work without permission and was looking forward to doing so in Detroit.

Shepard Fairey has been charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property. Photo: Rob Widdis via Detroit Free Press

Shepard Fairey has been charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property.
Photo: Rob Widdis via Detroit Free Press

That ill-considered admission, paired with several sightings of Fairey’s OBEY GIANT imagery, led Detroit police to file felony charges against the artist and issue a warrant for his arrest.

According to Michigan Live, Wayne County 36th District judge Kenneth King seems disinclined to view Fairey’s case favorably. “You can’t put things on property without their permission,” the judge told the court, utterly unimpressed with Fairey’s fame and stature. “It’s not cute and it’s illegal.”

After being arrested in LA over the outstanding warrant, Fairey turned himself in to Detroit authorities. A date has not yet been set for the trial, but preliminary examinations began last month.

Fairey's trademark 'Andre the Giant' tag appeared throughout downtown Detroit during his stay. Photo:

Fairey’s trademark ‘Andre the Giant’ tag appeared in Detroit during his stay.

Bradley Friedman, Fairey’s lawyer, denies that his client’s actions held any malicious intent. “He’s beautifying with his artwork,” he said during the examination, according to Michigan Live.

For his part, King wasn’t sure if Fairey had created the unwanted works out of “arrogance or pure stupidity.”

This is the first time Fairey has faced felony charges, despite 18 prior arrests for illegal tagging. He could face up to five years in prison and more than $10,000 in fines if convicted. Cleaning up Fairey’s unsolicited artwork reportedly cost the city nearly $30,000, according to the Associated Press.

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