Shepard Fairey Creates Anniversary Portrait of Missing Teen Perry Cohen

The famous street artist says boating is a "passion."

Shepard Fairey holds an image of Perry Cohen. Courtesy of Nick Korniloff.

As art fair executives Nick Korniloff and his wife, Pamela Cohen mark the one-year anniversary of the tragic disappearance of their 14-year-old son Perry Cohen, who was lost at sea along with his good friend Austin Stephanos, street artist Shepard Fairey has stepped in.

The striking image below, done in Fairey’s signature graphic style, is intended to honor the missing teen as well as to support the nascent Perry J. Cohen Foundation, the nonprofit organization founded by his parents to support the advancement of boating safety, marine and wildlife education and preservation, teenage entrepreneurship and supporting the arts.

Shepard Fairey's portrait of Perry Cohen marks the one year anniversary of the teen's disappearance at sea.

Shepard Fairey’s portrait of Perry Cohen. Courtesy of the artist and the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.

Fairey who is known for his activism and philanthropy, said, “I was honored and happy to create art for the Perry J. Cohen Foundation not just because I’m a parent, but also because boating has been a passion for our family for generations. I hoped to capture Perry’s likeness, but especially a bit of his spirit and love of the water.”

Pamela Cohen told artnet News that when she and Korniloff “looked at the initial artist proof that he forwarded, we were blown away and brought to tears.”

Fairey said he hopes the imagery “may help in a small way to bring attention to boating safety and Perry’s life and love of the outdoors.”

Perry Cohen, stepson of Nick Kornilof, and friend Austin Stephanos went missing at sea.

Perry Cohen, stepson of Nick Korniloff, and friend Austin Stephanos went missing at sea last summer.

Korniloff recalled introducing Perry to the artist’s work at one of the numerous fairs he founded as part of the Art Miami group (where Pamela is a director of marketing), and then taking him to Wynwood Walls in Miami’s design district to see a large mural that Fairey had created. The group hosts art fairs in cities including Miami, New York, and the Hamptons in eastern Long Island.

“Perry was a big admirer of Shepard’s work,” said Korniloff. “To have an artist, friend, and colleague, whose work is in many important institutions honor your son is surreal and a significant statement.” He added: “We are completely honored and humbled by his most generous gesture.”

Cohen and Stephanos embarked on a fishing trip on the morning of Friday July 24, 2015, and were in touch with their parents early in the day. They were last seen heading out of Jupiter Inlet. The United States Coast Guard conducted an exhaustive search and rescue mission that lasted eight days and covered 55,000 square nautical miles. They suspended their efforts a full week later, on July 31.

This past spring, a boat found roughly 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda in March was confirmed as the single-engine, 19-foot boat on which the teenagers were last seen.

Pamela Cohen penned a heartbreaking letter about her son’s disappearance and what her family has endured in the past year that was published in the Palm Beach Post. You can read it here.


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