Criminal Justice

When is graffiti art? Man is accused of defacing work of famous street artist


A criminal prosecution in Park City, Utah, raises the question of what differentiates art from graffiti.

David William Noll of California has been charged with criminal mischief based on allegations he defaced two works by famous street artist Banksy, report the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. A judge issued a warrant for Noll’s arrest this week when he failed to show up for a court hearing.

Banksy apparently spray painted the images when he was in Park City in 2010 for his documentary, the stories say. Building owners covered the works with protective glass. According to prosecutors, one of the covers was cracked and another was shattered. The work beneath the shattered cover—which depicts a boy with angel wings praying near spray paint—was defaced with brown spray paint.

YouTube videos showed Noll defacing the images, prosecutors say. He was also charged with vandalizing Banksy’s street art in Los Angeles. He pleaded no contest in April and was sentenced to about five months in jail, followed by three years of probation, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County DA’s office told AP.

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