03:15 GMT +323 October 2019
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    Artist Shepard Fairey poses for a portrait in front of a mural he created that was inspired by Barack Obama.

    Detroit Police On the Hunt For Legendary 'Obama Hope' Artist Shepard Fairey

    © AP Photo/ Matt Sayles
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    A felony arrest warrant has been issued in Detroit for the man behind the iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster, famous street artist Shepard Fairey, alleging that while he was in town working on a commissioned mural, he also “vandalized” other properties around the city.

    The commissioned mural he was working on is his largest to date, and has received mountains of praise.

    “Everyone here is so enthusiastic. In Detroit, street art isn’t seen as vandalism, but as an enhancement. It’s quite a reversal for me,” Fairey told StupidDope.com following the mural’s unveiling.

    The artist previously told the Detroit Free Press that he intended to create art across the city while he was there — without permission.

    "I still do stuff on the street without permission. I'll be doing stuff on the street when I'm in Detroit," Fairey said last month, before his signature Andre the Giant face popped up on buildings across the city.

    Police claim that Fairey left over $9,000 in damage on the properties he tagged, although some may argue that he just upped their value due to his fame and public esteem.

    The “vandalism” in question? Nine four-foot by four-foot posters.  Police suspect that as many as 14 properties were hit, but only nine were interested in pressing charges against the renowned artist.

    An exhibition of his work is currently running at the Library Street Collective in Detroit.

    “Just because he is a well-known artist does not take away the fact that he is also a vandal," Detroit Police Sgt. Rebecca McKay, who oversees the city's graffiti task force, told the Detroit Free Press. "And that's what we consider was done, in these instances, was vandalism."

    Fairey has been arrested over 15 times for defacing public property, but that doesn’t seem to slow him down from continuing to produce unsanctioned works.

    In 2012, Fairey was sentenced to two years' probation and a $25,000 fine in a criminal contempt case involving his world-famous "Hope" poster of Barack Obama.  The Associated Press, which owned the original photo, claimed the artist’s use of it was copyright infringement, while Fairey argued that his artwork fell under fair-use laws.  He ultimately plead guilty to contempt, for destroying the documents, manufacturing evidence and other misconduct relating to the lawsuit.

    The new warrant, filed on Friday, charges him with two counts of malicious destruction of property that carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail, plus fines that could exceed $10,000.

    Fairey is currently out of the country and has not yet publicly commented on the warrants.

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    Tags:
    Vandalism, Street Art, Shepard Fairey, Detroit
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