It gives me no pleasure to report that Austin Mikel Clay has been sentenced to one year in county jail and three years’ probation, plus $14,260 restitution, after pleading no contest to the theft and vandalism of a Marilyn sculpture from the Four Ladies of Hollywood gazebo on the Walk of Fame. I can’t understand why this young man would be willing to jeopardise his future for the sake of publicity. The sculpture has not been recovered, and as LAPD detective Mike Oldfield previously suggested, it seems likely that it has been destroyed.
Following this week’s news that a statuette of Marilyn has been sawn off the Four Ladies of Hollywood gazebo on the Walk of Fame, Deadline reports that a suspect has now been arrested. If the name Austin Mikel Clay sounds familiar to you, he was also alleged to have taken a pick-axe to Donald Trump’s Hollywood star last summer.
But whereas the prior incident could be read as a political statement of sorts, the theft of Marilyn’s sculpture may be little more than mindless vandalism or another publicity stunt. And while this arrest raises hopes of the statue’s recovery, there are also concerns that its forcible removal may have shattered this local icon.
Surveillance footage from the night of the theft posted by NBC Los Angeles showed two suspects leaving the scene (one was wearing a backpack), and heading to a nearby hotel, where they met with two more suspects.
UPDATE: Clay has now been charged with property theft and vandalism, to which he pleads not guilty. Although police say they found evidence that he was behind the theft when searching his home in Glendale, the statue has not yet been recovered. ‘Looking back at the (security) video, it would be reasonable that the statue broke and could be in multiple pieces,’ LAPD detective Douglas Oldfield said.
When it comes to public art, it seems that some folks just can’t keep their hands off Marilyn. This isn’t the first theft – in the past few years, we’ve reported stolen statues in Auckland, New Zealand; Devizes, UK; a Warhol screenprint in Staten Island, NY; and a mural in Victoria, Canada – and it probably won’t be the last, but it’s surely the most egregious yet. Created by Catherine Hardwicke and unveiled in 1994, the ‘Four Ladies of Hollywood‘ is a gazebo entry to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, upheld by four movie queens of multi-ethnicity (Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Anna May Wong and Dolores Del Rio), and topped by a gilded, miniature Marilyn ‘weathervane’ with her skirt blowing, à la Seven Year Itch.
Whether this heinous act of vandalism was perpetrated by a misguided fan or professional art thief, I urge them to return it immediately. Marilyn’s image is synonymous with Hollywood history and however much some individuals may want to have a piece of her, this work of art belongs to all of us. You can watch a TV news report here.
“LAPD detectives, including a forensics expert, and the Los Angeles Fire Department arrived at the scene at the Hollywood and La Brea Gateway to assist LAPD with the investigation … A ladder was hoisted up above to allow the forensic scientist to climb to the top of the crime scene.
‘I am calling this the great Marilyn caper of 2019,’ said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. ‘We have a witness who saw someone climb this structure and saw off the statue at the top and it’s a Marilyn Monroe image.’
‘It’s not okay to come and vandalize public art,’ O’Farrell said.
LAPD Hollywood division detective Douglas Oldfield said forensics already found some evidence in the case.
‘We got a few prints with our experts up there,’ said LAPD detective Douglas Oldfield. ‘We noticed the suspect used the Ws as footing. It [the sculpture] means something to the community and we’re going to investigate this to the best of our ability.'”NBC Los Angeles
Marilyn plays a recurring, symbolic role in Ray Donovan, the Showtime series starring Liev Schreiber as a troubled Hollywood fixer. Her haunting presence is prominent in a recent instalment (Series 5, Episode 9, ‘Mister Luck’), as Brian Tallerico reports for Vulture. Samantha Winslow, the studio boss who enlists Ray’s services, is played by Susan Sarandon – who starred as Gladys in Lifetime’s 2015 mini-series, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe – while Ray pursues a doomed romance with actress Natalie James (Lili Simmons), who suffers a fate not unlike Marilyn’s.
“The image of Marilyn Monroe’s garbage-strewn star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame could serve as a poster for Ray Donovan, a show about the people who clean the trash off the world’s most image-conscious people. While Ray’s journey to the dark side of Hollywood results in the death of someone close to him in ‘Mister Lucky,’ the entire Donovan clan is spiraling out of control.
Chronologically, the episode takes place months after the death of Abby Donovan, so it’s interesting that the structure of the season placed it right after the flashback episode in which we saw her die. All of the Donovans seem unmoored, slipping into their worst habits and flirting with violence. Abby was the rock of this group, and they are now adrift without her.
We pick up where ‘Horses’ ended: Terry just revealed that he helped Abby take her life and Ray knocked him to the floor. Ray pours a drink and then takes the bottle to a booth as Terry gets to his feet … After the encounter with his brother, Ray thinks he sees Abby walking down the street. He follows her to Marilyn Monroe’s star. He pays a male escort nearby to keep it clean …
A series of minor beats follow: Bridget and her dying boyfriend, Ray looking at a Marilyn Monroe painting in his apartment … The next major event comes when Ray gets a call from Lena to turn on the TV. A TMZ-esque show called Stalkerazzi has footage of Natalie and Ray together. Their affair is out in the open, and Natalie’s ex is watching the story in a bar … Most important, Ray gets to work with Natalie and she wonders if they can go public now. Natalie seems to be reaching out to Ray and he doesn’t see it. Given the episode’s tragic end, one wonders if she could have been saved if Ray simply paid attention.
While his father is having his own sexual adventure, Ray stops by a club called the Fist, where Lena discovered George has been hiding. It’s an underground gay sex club, and Ray finds George sitting in the front row for a show (which happens to co-star the escort in front of Marilyn’s star). George tells Ray that he’d make an excellent James Bond and then tells stories about Marilyn and Cary Grant.
Violence marks the end of ‘Mister Lucky’ … Ray comes back to the apartment to find Natalie’s ex on the pavement. He rushes upstairs and sees the aftermath of what looks like a murder-suicide. Natalie’s strangled corpse is on the bed. Another woman in Ray Donovan’s life has died.”
Thanks to Carl Rollyson
Scott Michaels, founder of FindADeath.com and the LA-based Dearly Departed Tours, has launched a petition to have Marilyn’s star moved from the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where her iconic handprints are sited.
“50 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe is still the biggest movie star of all time. She is also one of the most famous people in history.
Marilyn Monroe has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the McDonalds restaurant on the 6700 block of Hollywood Blvd.
This particular location on the Walk of Fame is narrow, littered with spilled food and drink, and crowded with threatening and agressive panhandlers.
People come from all over the world to visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and it’s close to impossible to photograph Marilyn’s star..
Considering the millions of dollars Marilyn Monroe generates for Hollywood, don’t you think she deserves better than this?
Please join Scott Michaels in urging the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to move Marilyn Monroe’s star to the front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, one of her favorite places.
She deserves that much.”
You can sign the petition here.
Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, where Marilyn Monroe and other stars dipped their hands in cement, is not what it used to be, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Donald Kushner of Grauman’s Chinese says the theater will need to begin taking out some imprints in the near future. ‘Some of the handprints are going to have to be removed so we can preserve them,’ he said. ‘Some of them, like Groucho Marx, have almost disappeared.’
This year has seen a record number of new entries – some perhaps reasonable enough, like Mickey Rourke, Jennifer Aniston and Robert Pattinson – and other more dubious choices, including Alvin and the Chipmunks and DJ David Guetta.
This had led some critics to protest that the ‘honour’ is being bestowed far too indiscriminately, and also to concerns that older stars’ prints may be removed to promote passing fads.
I suspect that Marilyn’s spot is safe enough for now. But Hollywood is where the American film industry began, and trifling as it may seem, the Walk of Fame is one of the few lasting memorials to the creative artists who made it great.
Marilyn Miller, who first found fame in Ziegfeld’s Follies on Broadway, and starred in three movies before her death in 1936, was honoured with her own star on Hollywood’s ‘Walk of Fame’. However, Miller’s star was stolen during the 1970s and has just reappeared.
Ben Lyon, the talent scout who signed 20 year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty to Twentieth Century-Fox in 1946, suggested the name ‘Marilyn’ to her because she reminded him of Miller. ‘Monroe’ was her mother’s maiden name.
After Marilyn married Arthur Miller in 1956, her name would match the woman who inspired it.
“Ana Martinez of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce told City News Service she received a call yesterday from a nervous man who said he had a Walk of Fame star, which he claimed someone had given to him.
It turns out it was Miller’s, which was one of several that were removed from the area of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in the 1970s to make way for special honors on the famed walk for NASA astronauts, Martinez said.
‘The stars were removed because they were going to be moved up in the same area of original placement,’ Martinez said.
She said the original stars were supposed to be destroyed because they were being replaced with new ones.
‘Obviously a few of them weren’t,’ she said.
Miller’s star was apparently pilfered from a construction site — the same one from which the original stars of James Stewart and Kirk Douglas disappeared, she said. Those stars were later recovered, but nobody realized that Miller’s had not been destroyed as planned, so the theft apparently went undetected.
‘I guess everyone assumed it was destroyed,’ Martinez said.
Martinez said the caller, whom she identified only as Bill, asked if it would be a crime to keep the star.
‘I said it’s a registered historic landmark,’ she said.
So the man hastily returned the 300-pound piece of concrete, even though his wife apparently had plans to turn it into a patio table, Martinez said.
Martinez said the star would be kept in the chamber’s archives, which will someday be used to create a ‘mini-museum.’
‘I’m just glad she’s back,’ Martinez said.”