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The Con Artist: Helping Children, Knee Capping Children, and Clooney is Confused
by Max Nesterak

It Was For the Children

Photo of Simon Metke, 33, by Jana G. Pruden via Edmonton Journal

Edmonton resident and small time weed dealer Simon Metke had no idea he was in possession of a stolen ancient Persian artifact valued at $1.2 million, so just chill out. Canadian officials raided Metke’s apartment late last month, and (according to the Edmonton Journal) Metke was just sort of like, woah, “What the heck is going on?”

“There’s like 20 RCMP officers flooding my place, the sunshine’s coming in, the crystals are making rainbows everywhere, the bougainvillea flowers are glowing in the sunrise light,” Metke told the Edmonton Journal.

The piece in question is a fragment from a fifth century BC Persian bas-relief, reported stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Art in September 2011. Metke reportedly bought the piece from a friend’s neighbor for a whopping $1,400, partly because the owner had back child support and Metke felt bad.

While most likely a big mistake (or conspiracy, dude) Metke and his girlfriend were charged with possession of stolen property and dealing marijuana. In addition to the sculpture the Quebec RCMP’s Integrated Art Crime Investigation Team also confiscated Metke’s weed and cash. Metke, who was totally going to get around to getting that legit medical marijuana license, told the Edmonton Journal that the monies were donations and savings for starting a business teaching children about ecology. On the topic of the now-empty space on his Ikea bookcase, Metke said he was honored to have had the piece in his home, and was sorry it didn’t end well.

“I hope that people will understand, this is just something I thought was neat,” he told the Edmonton Journal. “This was an interesting piece of art that I could put on the shelf and have represent my own personal spiritual journey that I was going through.”

Now the Mesopotamian artifact’s spiritual journey continues back to its rightful owners: a Canadian art museum. 




The Monuments Men” is opening old wounds between Greece and the U.K. over property rights of ancient artworks, and is also confusing George Clooney. At a press conference at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday, star George Clooney really dropped a clanger when he told a Greek journalist it would be nice if the U.K. returned the Elgin Marbles (featured in the movie) to Greece. The sculptures had been brought to England from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century. Well that really started a shambolic international row about the rights to the Elgin Marbles. Then, at a press conference in London on Tuesday, Clooney gave England the two finger salute while repeatedly cocking up Parthenon (in Athens) with the Pantheon (in Rome). “Even in England the polling is in favour of returning the marbles from the Pantheon [sic.],” he said. Matt Damon then came to his defense saying the British are off their trolly if they think Americans don’t get it. Bill Murray said they’re just being Whingers and Pinchers and that there was plenty of space in Greece for art, and they don’t need to go scrumping other people’s art.


Goodwill Has Art? 

The Last Supper by Sadao Watanabe

A Utah man was arrested on felony theft charges yesterday for stealing a work of art from a Goodwill store in Montana. Cody Floyd Johnson was apprehended by the Helena Police Department for lifting a reportedly rare print of a 1985 rendition of the last supper by Japanese artist Sadao Watanabe. The work is valued at $2,600, and can be purchased online at or that one Goodwill in Helena, Montana.


He Will Knee Cap Your Child

Better times at White Galleries. Jason White (right) shakes hands with an artist. via Yelp

A California gallery owner is awaiting trial on federal charges for cyberstalking the members of the Los Angeles art world… and their families. Jason White, who owns White Galleries in Temecula, was arrested on Wednesday by the F.B.I. for sending threatening messages online to former colleagues – art publishers, artists, and collectors – and attempting to extort hundred of thousands of dollars from them. According to the Los Angeles Times, in once instance, White allegedly found a picture of the son of his former supervisor, a Beverly Hills art dealer, which he sent to her with the message, "it will be very unfortunate if something was to happen to him." In another case, he posted a photo of himself on an artist’s Facebook page, writing that he was watching the artist’s wife and child and would wait in the bushes to "knee cap a child."

White made his way to the Golden State from North Dakota, where he built up quite the rap sheet: disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a controlled substance, etc. White faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

For more on this story, Caitlin Dickson at The Daily Beast published a great play-by-play of White’s sordid past of craziness and ludicracy.

The con artist is a weekly series on the art world’s dark-side of deception, intrigue, and fucked-uppery. Have a tip? Email max [at] artslant [dot] com. 





Posted by Max Nesterak on 2/14/14 | tags: sculpture crime artifacts ancient arrest theft Art the monuments men the con artist

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