JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Shepard Fairey unveiling his portrait of then US president-elect Barack Obama before it was installed at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC (2009)
The civil lawsuit between artist Shepard Fairey and the Associated Press over the use of an image in his Barack Obama "HOPE" poster was settled out of court in 2011, however, the criminal case, stemming from Fairey's acknowledgement that he fabricated and destroyed information in the 2009 lawsuit, was just heard in a New York courtroom.
Fairey pled guilty on Friday in federal court to one count of criminal contempt for misconduct he called a "terrible decision." The Los Angeles street artist faces a maximum fine of $5,000 for the misdemeanor charge, and a maximum penalty of six months in prison.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement Friday that Fairey "went to extreme lengths to obtain an unfair and illegal advantage in his civil litigation." Upon realizing the image he'd used was not the image he thought, Fairy reportedly printed documents to support his claims, arranged for a witness to support false claims, and hid the truth until files were discovered.
"Violating the court's trust was the worst thing I have ever done in my life," said Fairey, 42, of Los Angeles. "I was ashamed as I did all these things, and I remain ashamed."
Request that Fairey's bail be set at $100,000 was rejected by Magistrate Judge Frank Maas who said he posed an "extraordinarily low" flight risk, and could be released on his own recognizance.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 16 and the government plans to ask for "some term of imprisonment," assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel W. Levy told the judge.