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. dcortez

    Shame on you Boston! Is this what our tax payer dollars is going to? How about the real criminals that are walking the streets right now?!?!? What a waste, I live there btw. And let me tell you our resources are better spent on something like fighting the ongoing violence in the Dorchester area and keeping our kids safe.

    Go Faire, can't wait to see your exhibit at the ICA, you work is inspiring.

    February 7, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  2. Frank

    I'm always pro-artist. With all the photos taken of Obama, or any public figure, it must be pretty tough to prove copyright infringement based on a separate piece of artwork created by an artist, who never used the real photo anywhere in their work.

    The Obey symbol has been a graffiti mark for almost 20 years now. I suppose it's that he "switched coasts" for this round of tagging that got him in trouble!

    One other quick thing...if we're so concerned about "infringement" on media such as stickers, posters and t-shirts...maybe we should make some laws that protect artists...anyone look at the copyright infringement cesspool that is "CafePress" lately?

    February 7, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  3. Lotibrown

    I am always amazed how Republicans seem able to see from both sides of their faces. Pot smoking, adultery, pill popping, losing billions of dollars of public funds, lying to the American people about going to war, are all excuseable when its a Republican but a crime if it happens to a Democrat. It must be nice to be able to decide when morality matters and when it doesnt.

    February 7, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  4. bill

    I want to do a graffiti campaign blasting all Boston bridges and street signs with it. And my posters will say "Free Shepard Fairy!"

    February 7, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  5. No Name

    So stupid. I don't even have words.

    February 7, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. Fan of Common Sense

    If stupidity is a crime.....I say he's guilty.

    February 7, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  7. Fan of Common Sense

    I think Steele meant government never created a job IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.......and he would be right.

    February 7, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  8. David

    Fairey is so full of crap, I remember him from SF 20 years back always trying to get something-anything sold so its no surprise he ripped off an actual artist to get cash and attention-wheres his posse now? Also he is by far dumbest person on Charlie Rose I have ever seen.

    February 7, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  9. dan


    February 7, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. m.

    How many stupid people does it take to comment on an even stupider article? See above.

    February 7, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  11. Macklin Crux

    Leave it to Boston's Finest to never miss a photo op.

    February 7, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  12. Nate P, MN

    A criminal is a criminal, regardless if he's creating "art" or whatever. I get sick of that OBEY crap around my neighborhood on every stoplight controller box.

    February 7, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  13. I'm Socialist

    I don't believe in this copyright crap. I will use any picture I choose to, no I will not pay 1 cent to anyone for it. But then again not being a capitalist I won't try to make any money with it. Once in the public domain it belongs to the people!

    February 7, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. Henry

    Please forgive him. along with Michael Phelps, A-Rod, Martha whats her name. Write a freaking book get rich and get over it.

    February 7, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  15. nimmer

    It is a matter of time when Mr. Teflon himself will be smudged.

    February 7, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  16. King

    Perfect timing...duh...he just an artist and you now want to arrest him. Phelps had a photo too...you wanna arrest for that too...economy is more important!!

    February 8, 2009 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  17. Santa Maria

    I wonder if Obama's grandmother really died of natural causes. I mean, he went there and shortly thereafter she died. Was he afraid that she was going to spill the beans about him? Makes you think...unless you are a card carrying democrat...then thinking is to hard and you just raise your hand to the obamessiah.

    February 8, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  18. Original Art has rights - not graffiti copies!

    To the socialist I ask...
    If you step out of your car and leave the keys – is it okay for someone else to drive away with it? If you drop $20 to the floor – is it still yours? When you walk down the street are you too a part of the public domain – Your physical being – can anything be done to you? Losing your rights is losing your rights. If you have none, you have none – there isn't any picking and choosing with socialism. In your world, graffiti artists don't have any rights either – so they shouldn't be "claiming" anything or profiting from anything with individualized "stamps" or "marks" no matter who created the original... sounds like a "street version" of attempted capitalism to me. Go figure! Nothing original here at all – criminals always evoke the laws of the same system they abused to protect themselves – yawn. Learn your rights and allow yourself the TRUE freedom we need in order to actually be creative!

    February 8, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. Scott, Tucson

    Is it just me or does that painting look like a typical Communist artwork from the Soviet era?

    February 8, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. josephine

    A photographer makes his living by taking those "snaps" that any three year old can take. Do you have a three year old ? Do their photos have people without their heads like my three year old takes??? There are snapshots and then there are photographs. You are going to tell me that Ansel Adams and you can both get the same scene?? I think not. When a photographer has a copyright it is the only protection they have for their livelihood, and it is the LAW. Just as with music copyrights so are photographic copyrights.

    February 8, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. 30m-PA-Democrat-voted Clinton then McCain

    That's right, the nut jobs supported Obama.

    February 8, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. sledhands

    I thought of it was red orange and blue

    February 8, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. Mike in VA

    I can't believe you ppl defend him. Graffiti and copyright infringements are against the law. People are arrested all over the country for the same thing, along with rapists and murders and Tax Cheats... oh wait...

    February 8, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. johnnymac

    This artist should be held accountable for his actions as to the damage to private property. As far as the copy right laws and art, I thought all that was sorted out in the 60ties with PoP art. I wonder what Andy Warhol or Robert Rauschenberg would have to say about it all.

    February 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Well let's see...according to copyright law Section 103 isn't this a "derivative work" that doesn't affect the original photo? I think it's a great work of art. Ok, so he pays the fines for graffiti...but arrest him? Why? I can think of better use of a city's money in this economy than throw a graffiti artist in jail.

    February 8, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
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