Elmgreen & Dragset’s Prada Marfa Vandal Settles Criminal Damage Case

A Waco Texas artist who vandalised Elmgreen & Dragset’s Prada Marfa installation has pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal mischief.  Joe Magnano, a 36 year old street artist, AKA 927 1977, will now have to pay Ballroom Marfa $10,700 for the restoration of the well known site specific installation. He will also pay a $1000 fine.

Last March, Mr Magnano defaced the landmark reproduction Prada store by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset who are known for their London fourth plinth creation, ‘Boy on a Rocking Horse’. Mr Magnano altered the art, turning it into a TOMS outlet which is an ethical online retailer. Tom’s matches sales with donations to underprivileged children. “There was no destruction here,” Magnano told the time. “Prada Marfa was just a canvas for TOMS Marfa. That’s how I view it one hundred percent, I stand by that and I believe in it. It was absolutely art and nothing else.”

TOMS has given more than 35 million pairs of new shoes to children in need and helped restore sight to over 250,000 people. We are incredibly proud of and humbled by this milestone, and more excited than ever to see how the continual evolution of our Giving can positively impact communities in need around the world. Mr Magnano sprayed the building with blue paint, added TOMS logos, and posted a manifesto on the art installation. Elmgreen & Dragset and Ballroom Marfa condemned the action as artistic vandalism and a cowardly act of destruction.

Michael Elmgreen was unimpressed by the attack, describing it as “bullshit to do with vanity”. The Texas District Attorney told us that the prosecution wanted to use our interviews with Magnano because it showed his lack of repentance and his willingness to openly discuss the crime and use it as self-promotion.

Prada Marfa is a permanently installed sculpture by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, situated 1.4 miles (2.3 km) northwest of Valentine, Texas, just off U.S. Highway 90 (US 90), and about 26 miles (42 km) northwest of the city of Marfa. The installation was inaugurated on October 1, 2005. The artists called the work a “pop architectural land art project.” The sculpture, realised with the assistance of American architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello,[3] cost $80,000 and was intended to never be repaired, so it might slowly degrade back into the natural landscape. This plan was deviated from when, six days after the sculpture was completed, vandals graffitied the exterior, and broke into the building stealing handbags and shoes.

Designed to resemble a Prada store, the building is made of “adobe bricks, plaster, paint, glass pane, aluminum frame, MDF, and carpet.” The installation’s door is nonfunctional. On the front of the structure there are two large windows displaying actual Prada wares, shoes and handbags, picked out and provided by Miuccia Prada herself from the fall/winter 2005 collection; Prada allowed Elmgreen and Dragset to use the Prada trademark for this work. The sculpture was financed by the Art Production Fund (APF) and Ballroom Marfa, a center of contemporary art and culture.