February 8th, 2009
06:40 AM ET
12 years ago

Obama 'Hope' artist arrested in Boston

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/05/art.fairey.gi.jpg caption="Fairey stands next to his famous depiction of Obama at the National Portrait Gallery."]
(CNN) -The street artist who created the ubiquitous red, white and blue Obama "Hope" posters was arrested Friday in Boston on outstanding graffiti charges, police said.

Shepard Fairey, 38, was arrested en route to an opening party for his first solo art exhibition on two outstanding warrants for property damage by graffiti, Boston police said.

Officer James Kenneally said the instances of graffiti involved images of the late wrestler Andre the Giant - Fairey's tag.

The Friday arrest represents Fairey's second legal tangle this week.

Earlier, the Associated Press accused him of copyright infringement, saying the iconic "Hope" portrait of the president is based on an April 2006 photograph of Obama taken by AP's Mannie Garcia.

The AP - the world's largest news organization - is seeking credit and compensation from Fairey, who contends the image is protected by fair use laws.

The graffiti artist is no stranger to law enforcement. In a recent interview, Fairey told the Boston Globe he has been arrested at least 14 times.

Fairey was released on bail shortly after his arrest Friday and is scheduled for arraignment Monday.

Calls to his lawyer were not immediately returned Saturday.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Andy

    Wow, not even Obama's artist can stay out of trouble. Barack man, you is mixin with the wrong crowd boy!!

    February 7, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |

    Stewart will surely make fun of conservatives for trying to get to Obama through this guy. Here's what he'll be able to point out:

    1. The use of the AP image was fair use - perfectly legal.

    2. The Andre the Giant thing went viral years ago, which means there's no way to prove this guy was the one who drew any particular image. Heck I had a stencil of it when I was on the streets, myself, and so did all my friends.

    February 7, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. blinky

    sounds like joe the plumber and levi "palin" – people who probably never envisioned sudden celebrity status now have tons of skeletons to hide.

    February 7, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. Wolfe

    Hopelessly stupid.

    February 7, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. Tom Mosser

    I love the Fairey iconic depiction of Obama.

    But as an artist myself who does a lot of portrait and sports related reproduction work, I have to respect photographers and be very careful not to "duplicate" a photo with a printed piece. The photo that Fairey worked from is a great one. The artist has to be "inspired" by the photo and not necessarily "replicate" it. The photographer is an artist too and should get some credit if that's the case.

    That being said, I think Fairey did enough alterations to the basic feel of the photo to be let off the copyright hook here.

    The AP should let this one go.

    February 7, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. Tim from Coronado, Ca

    For in-depth analysis and perspective on this story and more, tune into the Colbert Report.

    February 7, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Jane

    Guys a loser. Notice how the portrait of Obama actually looks like Fairey. He's just self promoting his self and the Obama supporters bought it. LOL

    February 7, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. irishny

    How many guys connected to Obama are going to get into problems with the law.
    It ranges from tax evasion,to dodgy business dealings(richardson),to grafitti.
    Next thing,we'lll find out his secretary for the environmrnt is selling drugs to kids! 🙂

    February 7, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. Jonathan H

    Boston is backward.

    February 7, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. I love porkchops

    Doesnt everybody get their 15 minutes?Even dittoheads?

    February 7, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  11. Joanna

    People can't even sneeze with out it being reported on.

    February 7, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. Rammie

    You seems to know all Obama's fault, you guys should run for the President job, ohh genie ohh dave, dive out of the genie bottle.

    February 7, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. Norm

    This is pretty stupid and probably staged...do you think that the cops have more serious outstanding warrants to serve? However, arresting this guy is easy and it makes the news...

    February 7, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  14. Sue

    I sure didn't vote for Obama however where I live we just had a police officer shot in the head....murder suicide, a stabbing, and countless other real crimes. What a waste of time to lock up this "criminal."

    February 7, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. Harry

    Lol, they arrest him, but not Dick Cheney.

    I don't get it.

    February 7, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. Mary

    He did not break any copyright laws by creating a painting of portrait. If he had printed the portrait and then maninpulateded it, then copyright is broken, but if he in fact actually drew it and then painted it that is HIS interpertation of the portrait which is not a copy right violation. Plus, as far as I understand, the photographer did not go thru the steps to get the phone 'officially copyrighted".

    February 7, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  17. Glenn Carlton

    copyright infringement is serious stop stealing. pay the man.

    February 7, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. Jon

    Except Gene's type of comments actually appear on sites like this. No liberals say what you just said, Dave.

    February 7, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  19. Dane

    Fairey has a loooong history of plagiarizing other peoples work. He's a hack.

    February 7, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  20. Jeanine

    I liked the Andre the Giant work...who doesn't like Andre the Giant.

    Dude...he was in The Princess Bride! Come on...Fezzig. Don't these guys watch movies?

    February 7, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  21. Melissa in New Orleans

    Honestly, they need to just cool it already. So what. Let the man go, he hasn't done anything wrong other than capture a nations attention that the original photo obviously didn't manage to do.

    February 7, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  22. eleanor fitzgerald

    Oh for heaven's sake, Farley's poster is more interesting and inspiring than the original photo. If he made money, let him settle with Mannie Garcia. Fair is fair, but this seems an obsessive enforcement of the law. I haven't seen his graffiti. I have seem some displays that are called art and look like graffiti. (As for recent Republican commentary, Obama has been president for just 2 1/2 weeks, and they are on his case already for not yet fixing their mess. Clearly, their objective is to do all in their power to portray him as failng at every opportunity in the hope that if they say it often enough, those who are dumb enough will believe it! So much for working together!)

    February 7, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. JON

    just looked at the photo it is a dead on match to his painting ooops I guess he didn't think the poster would be a big hit .

    February 7, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  24. carrie

    One man {Mannie Garcia} did a photo; One man{Fairey} did a painting. The photo was not "famous" the painting got noticed. The painter should win this one.

    February 7, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. Bipartisan

    This is all Bob Barr's fault. Told you he wasn't qualified to run for president.

    Sorry, I just had to join in. 😉

    February 7, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
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