Stealing Photos? Now This is Bulls**t.

Stealing digital photos has long been a pasttime for some web junkies, and we as photographers have always dealt with it. Sign of the times. But this week’s theft of Jason Lee’s Polaroid portrait of actor Dennis Hopper is straight-up bull shittake.

The art collective ThisLosAngeles last week reported that, after a gallery opening called These Friends, they agreed to let a patron use the restroom just before closing. Turns out that this particular patron visited the toilet, but also paid a visit to the incredibly valuable (and beautiful) one-of-a-kind-polaroid-portrait of Dennis Hopper (shot by artist/actor Jason Lee) in the back of the gallery…and he swiped it. Pulled the art off the wall and walked out.

G’head and blame the gallery, blame the collective, blame the attendant who let the guy take a leak, blame whomever. The point is that I’m blaming the perpetrator and you should too. Stealing is bad, stealing one of a kind art is worse, and that the thief is amongst us…

Now–after several days and a $25,000 reward–Lee’s Polaroid is still missing. The gallery is facing the prospect of going out of business, the cops have little resources to sink resources into finding the culprit and recovering the loss. Wouldn’t it be nice if we in the photo, art, design, pop culture community could track this photo (and this criminal) down?

Citizens arrest. Call Jeremy Weiss at 323-747-5301 or if you have any tips.

(via Fraction Magazine. More details here from ThisLosAngeles.)

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Girish says:

It’s pathetically sad to hear that someone can walk around rip of a print and walk away. Seriously. If was planned no one can catch the criminal.

For the aritst it must be shocking. His work is at stake.

Every day I keep hearing or reading thefts of images from various online galleries where photographers post, which are in turn stolen by the news papers, media etc. Unfortunately in a place like India not much can be done.

Hope that print is recovered sooner.

nron13 says:

jason lee the skateboarder? probably skateboard took it , im guessing………

Adam Leahy says:

Thanks for posting Chase, I hope the photograph is recovered. It’s a shame these things happen. There is some talk here about this being just a photo, or a piece of paper, etc. I think it is much more than a piece of paper, it’s art and it really doesn’t matter too much that it is Dennis Hopper, who we’ll all forget about soon, I already did. The photo is still very striking, Polaroids have a presence about them that is cool and unique also. Compare my Subaru that I spend about $25K on and this photograph. Soon my Subaru will be in a dump somewhere with nothing of value left. This photograph though will still be intriguing to people in many, many years. And the Polaroid will hold some interest in contrast to however photography is printed/shown/displayed now and in the future.

I hate hearing about these things but unfortunately it is a fact of life. Atleast in the age we live in the word can be spread.

It’s things like this that remind me of not only the world we live in, but unfortunately, some of the people in it.

The arts community is a powerful tool to help recover lost works, digital or otherwise – look how they found “The Scream” – Edvard Munch (1893). It makes one wonder if the people that commit these crimes ironically suffer from what Munch did, depersonalization disorder, where the world around said individuals becomes distorted much like themselves.

I have full faith and confidence in those around me and in the community that this work will be found.

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Leon says:

Unreal – hope he is tarred and feathered

jetgreen1 says:

The Bald-faced criminal aspect aside..It was in fact a crime and all that wailing and gnashing of teeth..I hope the person just secretly returns the damn thing..BUT…I am willing to bet Hopper would have thought that was SO COOL…In case you have never read anything about the man himself…NO ANGEL!

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First off, thank you Chase for posting this on your blog. First time visitor, new follower.

I am one of the owners of THIS gallery and a fellow photographer.

THIS has been a complete labour of love for the 5 of us involved. It’s a place run by friends for friends to come together and have an outlet to show their art. It’s all of our very very part time job but still takes a ton of work to pull off. My wife and I are both pretty busy photographers, as well as another partner Aaron Farley but somehow we figure out a way to pull of running a full time gallery, shits not easy.

Anyway, this happening to us and our good friend Jason really took the wind out of our sails and made us question why we are even running a gallery. It’s obviously not for the money as we pay out of pocket to keep the place alive.

And to respond to the people who just commented how insurance will just pay for it, theres much more too it than that. For one, who cares? Jason doesn’t want the money, he wants his picture back. For two, the gallery makes no money and insurance companies do not like to pay money. The raise of our premiums alone would put this place under.

But we will figure this shit out and find a way to move on, it means too much to us for us to quit.

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Mike Padua says:

I read through the original post, too, but I’m still unclear on why the gallery is potentially going out of business because of the loss of this photograph.

Really lame of the thief any way you look at it.

Lainer says:

This kind of reminds me of the documentary I saw recently that Orson Welles narrated about an art plagiarist. He did fantastic fakes, so much so that even the Art Dealers and specialists couldn’t tell they were fake.I think it’s one of the most interesting documentaries I’ve ever seen! Sad about stealing the polaroid. Don’t photographers get ripped off enough by such low wages?

This is horrible!!!! I hope they find the picture and punish the thief!

DanielKphoto says:

We’d better find that guy, photos like that are irreplaceable… I’ll retweet this one :)

Trudy says:

This is disgusting. And while so many turn a blind eye to copyright infringement of photography, now it’s just straight up theft and how disheartening. I hope that they figure this one out.

To the person who wrote this “But something is fundamentally wrong with society when we place a Polaroid’s worth at 25k” sorry but you are wrong in my opinion. Do not disregard the value of art and try to “guilt” people into not caring about art by juxtaposing it to hunger. It’s the oldest and cheapest one-trick pony in the book.

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Danny says:

Does the gallery not have any security footage of the jerk! I always wondered how famous works of art are ever sold, and who would display something that a lot of folks know is stolen!

The Three Js says:

Interesting when people say it’s only a picture…it’s just art. The fact of the matter is that it’s stealing.
If someone stole $100 from you I doubt you would be saying its just some ink printed on high quality paper.
Stealing is stealing, whether it be a photo, oil painting, a car, or a cell phone. I had a cell phone stolen once, and I wasn’t upset about the photo itself, but the videos and pictures of my family that were on there…there isn’t any monetary value placed on that, it’s priceless to me. Who cares what it’s a picture of, the fact of the matter is it’s someone else’s property.

jasra says:

dont understand why people do it this way
really bad

David Bram says:

Thank you so much!

It’s a real shame.

Marc Plouffe says:

People who steal, don’t care about the harm or grief caused to the victim(s). They have no human characteristics.

Well what can I say about the theft itself other than it sucks!

But what about that Jason Lee?! is he the coolest guy ever?
Pro skater, actor writer, producer, director and now photographer???
Is there a website tat shows his photographic work. The only Jason Lee
photography page I found insisted that this is NOT Jason Lee the actor…
Any hints there?

ka0s says:

This is sad. But is that photo really worth 25k?
Yes I know Dennis Hopper was a great actor who passed away last year.

But something is fundamentally wrong with society when we place a Polaroid’s worth at 25k.

One of a kind or not, it is a photo, and of a highly documented individual. Meanwhile 25k could feed homeless within the immediate surrounding Los Angeles area. Perhaps, a portion of that reward, can be donated in the name of the photographer, the studio and heck even Dennis Hopper to better serve a inflated value of a 3.5 x 4.25 piece of paper.

I know there will be flack from this that I am missing the point… but am I really?

jakuda says:

Ah, yes,
and that Van Gogh hack – I mean seriously who who pay so much money for a bit of paint and cloth.
You have a point to be taken, but for people to value you and your opinion, don’t undervalue theirs. (For the record, I don’t think you’re “fundamentally wrong” :-) but I can also appreciate value in a superior piece of art)

NA says:

And couldn’t you, who are preaching to us, be spending your time more productively? Rather than posting multiple replies and trying to ruffle some feathers on a photo blog, shouldn’t you be out pounding the pavement trying to feed those homeless? Get over yourself.

ka0s says:

I volunteer 3 nights a week at a shelter locally in NY.

There is no unfit place to discuss the issues of society, especially in an increasingly ‘social network’ online.

Thanks for the advice.

Albert says:

ka0s has a very valid point. He’s not undervaluing anything as much as exposing the absurd stance some people are willing to go over some piece they probably never knew existed, never cared for or even never (financially) valued.

At worst, the gallery is insured. At best, they catch him and all can sleep well at night.

Now if we can just shift our attention to more pressing matters, like the current debt based economic system that has been swallowing up and crushing worldwide masses for the past couple of generations.

Seifier says:

It’s not about the medium (piece of paper) but it’s what’s on it. Some people are willing to pay that much to get it back, and also make an example that stealing is not acceptable.

alex says:

“The gallery is facing the prospect of going out of business”. Yes, stealing is bad, but, why would they go out of business? Did the gallery not have insurance? If so, that’s just irresponsible, and frankly very odd.

Erik Hecht says:

This is why Chase printed his Seattle 100 gallery at 60×40 inches. Try stealing that, criminal scum!

An interesting case… and a one of a kind picture…. BUT… come on… don`t appel to the people for that… There are murderers out there and you waste your time on an art thief?


ka0s says:

Bingo, we have a winner.

Nikki Benson says:

That’s a real shame. Hopefully this post will go viral and the thief will be caught!

ka0s says:

Do your part Nikki, make it go viral.
You Mam, are the driving force behind real change.

Will says:

I could dress this up but hey – what a twat!

Just retweeted and shared this on HIdden Los Angeles. I’ll share it with m friends as well.

This is sick. People who indulge in such stuff should atleast morally realize that people into photography and art take a lot of efforts to put thing together?
Hope this work is retrieved.
I’m posting this blog post on my Facebook page.


ka0s says:

Do your part, get infuriated for the next 90 minutes by tweeting and posting on your Facebook, before you may come to the epiphany that this is just a photo. It will sit on a wall, the gallery or the thief’s as a replica of the man it portrays.
Neither it, nor the duplicates found online are any closer to the reality.

Do your part, find that photo. You are changing the world.

Andy Comber says:

This sort of thing really angers me.

This will be retreated immediately but being in the UK will probably hinder its usefulness.

This fine art images are meant to be enjoyed by all, and this bare faced thievery is infuriating.

I really hope this person is caught soon and the polaroid returned to its rightful place.

Austin Holt says:

APB. Passing the word on.

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