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. A. L. Flanagan

    Great timing, the guy is finally breaking into the mainstream and they arrest him on the way to a showing? Get real, go find some killers.

    And yes, AP, this is fair use. Get over yourselves.

    February 7, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  2. Steven

    I type 60 words per minute...I sometimes make mistakes in my spelling ...as in my previous comment...........LIKE I SAID>>>>> THE ARTIST WON ....YOU ALL LOOK AT IT FROM THE WRONG PERSPECTIVE......JUST AS BOB MARLEY WON....and "THIS GUY" Brandon...already is willing to jump into his ( the artist`s grave) ! ! ! PITY !

    February 7, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  3. bob in LA

    If his art – or graffiti- looks like this picture, then he should be left alone.
    If it is more traditional tagging- something a man of his age should have outgrown, then throw him in jail!

    We have entire wings of museums dedicated to gariffit that has a meaning or art value. We need to learn the difference between that and vandalism.

    February 7, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  4. WillieBinNC

    Next he will be painting Pot for sale signs and hanging them on the white house fence. BO will not doubt be a regular...

    February 7, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  5. gth

    A further example of how the cops continue to loose the respect of the people. Next for them, extreme budget cuts and a populace willing not to fund. Money for cops/prisons or healthcare/education, not a hard choice for me.

    February 7, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  6. Amy PA/CA

    Boston has real problems, this artist should be among the least of their worries.

    February 7, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  7. Gene

    My comment was meant to be a joke... I hope people actually realize that 🙂

    February 7, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  8. beryl g drake

    Should have put diollars signs in the subjec's eyes. this is just one of huge wasteful spending sprees that the new administration will copy from the old Bush flop. CVan't anyone hear the sounds of hoof-beats-haste makes waste and fools make awful polic=ticians, or visa versa,

    February 7, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  9. Davonne in Easton Pennsylvania

    Wow, I can't believe this guy has to go to jail because of a painting. I mean look at it, it's very impressive. Even if it was copied by the AP organization, it's still nice to look at. Hell, i wouldn't mind him painting that on my wall in my room. I say get him a break. Let the guy go.

    February 7, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  10. If you're not with us...

    anyone who voted for obama or supports him in any way is clearly a criminal. the blatant anti-americanism of these subhuman liberals is an abomination, and these so called "artists" are the worst of all. the only answer is for we real americans to retake the nation by force. if we simply fill up some camps (denver airport for example) with all these democratic idiots and introduce a "final solution", our once proud nation might survive.

    don't give up my fellow republicans! they can't make us think!

    February 7, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  11. Simmy


    I'm a LIBERAL, and proud as heck of it!******You, on the other hand, are an alien. You are from the planet Dork, where these are the rules of law: We win or else. It's our way or the highway. We don't believe in diversity, unless your name is Michael Steele. Our religion is the letter "D." ******Romney2012, you are Dismissed.

    February 7, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  12. Joe Green

    I like the fact that the AP now claims to own Obama's image.

    Talk about chutzpah!

    This sort of stuff is why people are against IP law.

    You can't "own" a frontal view of the President.

    If the artist made copies of the AP photo, yes, that is copyright infringement.

    But to use the image of the president as an inspiration for a completely new work, well, that's a whole different deal.

    Obama's Face is not Copyrigthable.

    (Maybe he needs to wear a Buhrka to prevent infringement?)

    AP, shame on you.

    Graffitti artist, go clean up your graffitti!

    February 7, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  13. Just shut up!

    Another crook linked to Obama?

    February 7, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Pat in IL

    Good grief. Aren't there any real crimes happening in Boston, so the law can have something real to do?

    February 7, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  15. Sunnyb

    The AP? You bunch of woosies. You would not be able to dream up something yourself so you have to take it from someone else. Typical of the crap that happens to artists. Greed.

    February 7, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  16. guria

    I don't understand, are people who meet the president personally allowed to draw them. ridiculous. I better tell my 6 year to draw only things he sees. I guess I better take him scuba diving before he draws anykind of fish.

    February 7, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  17. Well there it is

    There's another stimulus package line item, new job creation removing graffiti from public buildings. Is anyone aware of what this costs governments across the country every year? Some places they shoot people for destroying property, better he was arrested I say.

    February 7, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  18. jt

    If you wanna arrest. Arrest the real criminals Bush and Chenney, and leave this guy alone, he's just an Artist, for God sake.

    February 7, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  19. michael

    Hey people he broke the law which means he needs to recieve the esults of his actions. He was arrested for graffittie something he has apparently done before. As far as we know he may have been pulled over for a traffic violation and when the ran his name they same the warrent and did their job of arresting him so leave the cops alone. And yes this has nothing to do with Obama.

    February 7, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  20. Crazy Larry

    What?! This is crazy. It must be a slow news day.

    Also, Larry King is so stupid for having a real wresler on the show to challenge Mikey Rouke. What is this a street fight. CNN makes me sick because just when you want to give them credibility, they turn circus circus on you. Stupid show on Larry King tonight. Mickey Rouke is a champ for ignoring Larry and his wrestler friend.

    February 7, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  21. jesse

    the A.P. just mad that Faireys looks better their pants

    February 7, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  22. Hitspinner

    Foolishness. The photographer that took the photo created nothing except take a picture that any three year old could take as well with a little training. The fact that a great artist (that CAN produce art) actually decided to embellish the photo is a compliment. Imitation is the highest form of flattery and inspiration can come from any one of us, even an AP photographer hack that snaps a lucky shot. That photographer should be on her knees giving thanks that an artist so high up the food chain took notice and should be in the office beating the lawyers to death that want to crush this sort of creativity.

    February 7, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  23. Alana

    There's graffiti and then there's public art. Go arrest some REAL criminals.

    February 7, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  24. Dan

    In the west coast Art world, Fairey is well know for his stealing of other peoples art, just google:'Shepard Fairey plagiarism' and see clear examples. In same cases, he has had to go back and pay artists. His lawyer must be busy!

    February 7, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  25. DP

    I love his works. Yet, one who breaks the law should be punished. I would say that graffiti should be considered a low offense felony (yes – felony) since it causes property damage and punishable by 30 days in jail and/or community service. Fairey needs to learn to get permission prior to painting on public places. I seriously doubt many would object to having one of his paintings on the side of their building if it enhances the look.

    I would bet the same group of people on here complaining that he should not be arrested would be begging the cops to arrest someone if their own house had a mural painted on it overnight without their permission. You would probably complain even more when the cops take a report and do not immediately follow up on it.

    February 7, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
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