The Vandal Who Turned Prada Marfa into TOMS Pleads Guilty

Prada Marfa vandalized.
Photo: Rita Weigart, Marfa Public Radio.

One week before his case was set to go to trial, the Waco, Texas artist who vandalized Elmgreen & Dragset‘s Prada Marfa installation earlier this year has pled guilty on two counts of misdemeanor criminal mischief, reports Glasstire. The 36-year-old Joe Magnano, who had assumed the pseudonum 927 1977, will pay Ballroom Marfa $10,700 for the piece’s restoration, as well as a $1000 fine.

On March 9, Magnano transformed the fake Prada store into a TOMS (the company that pledges to “help a person in need” with every product purchased, as per its website) as a statement on the supposedly-ideological company’s negative environmental impact. He sprayed the building with blue paint, papered the windows with TOMS logos, and posted a politically charged manifesto (see “TOMS Marfa? Elmgreen and Dragset Sculpture Vandalized Yet Again“).

Though both Elmgreen & Dragset and Ballroom Marfa were quick to condemn this artistic intervention as a cowardly act of destruction (see “Elmgreen & Dragset and Prada Marfa Vandal Speak Out” and “Ballroom Marfa Responds to Vandalizing of Elmgreen and Dragset Installation“), Magnano defended himself on several local media outlets (see “Prada Marfa Vandal 9271977 Arrested, Unmasked“). He told the Big Bend Sentinel:

I wish that it was analyzed and investigated as an installation it was. Everything was hand selected, painted, built, researched. The quotes were powerful. The questioning of TOMS and the state of America was powerful.

It was Magnano’s outspokenness that damaged his case. In his interviews with the press, the artist’s discussion of the crime made it difficult for him to mount a plausible defense. Texas law enforcement officials also attempted to subpoena Magnano’s conversations with the Big Bend Sentinel, prompting the newspaper to cite the 2009 Free Flow of Information Act, which sets parameters that must be met by the state before a reporter is required to give any information.

As part of his plea agreement, Magnano has agreed not to publicize or profit from his action, which would violate his two-year probation.

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