Artist Fairey gets court date on destruction charges

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Famed graffiti artist Shepard Fairey was briefly in a city courtroom to face a judge in his criminal case involving his alleged tagging of some local properties.

Fairey, 45, refused comment Tuesday before appearing before Wayne County Judge Gregory Bill. At his probable cause conference, the court decided Fairey will have a preliminary examination at 9 a.m. Aug. 27.

The Los Angeles artist was recently hired to put up a 184-foot-tall mural on the east side of 1 Campus Martius, formerly known as the Compuware building, owned by downtown building magnate Dan Gilbert. He also legally put up his art on a large billboard on East Grand River, a water tower bearing the artist’s trademark “Obey” logo and several temporary murals.

But police say he also affixed his trademark stickers onto 14 other properties without the owners’ permission.

City of Detroit attorney Doug Baker said the city is “struggling against crime and this is crime.”

“This is a malicious destruction of property (case) and we are proceeding like we are doing in any other malicious destruction case and it’s part of our overall fight against blight,” Baker said Tuesday.

Fairey’s attorney, Bradley J. Friedman, said he is trying to get an extension for his client’s next court appearance in August.

The case now goes before 36th District Court Judge Kenneth King for the preliminary examination.

Fairey was arrested earlier this month by customs agents at Los Angeles International Airport after returning from a trip to Europe. He spent the night in a Los Angeles jail.

Fairey was arraigned last week before 36th District Magistrate Renee McDuffee on charges of malicious destruction of property. The artist received a bond of $75,000, 10 percent, according to court officials.

If Fairey is convicted, punishment for the offense carries up to five years in prison and a fine three times the monetary damage of the crime.

(313) 222-2027

Detroit News Staff Writer George Hunter contributed.