Anthony-Noel Kelly is a British artist who made casts of dissected body parts for an exhibition at the London Contemporary Art Fair in 1997. The problem was is that he stole anatomical specimens from the Royal College of Surgeons to fabricate the molds for his morbid sculptures.
Between 1991 and 1994 Kelly persuaded Niel Lindsay, a junior technician at the Royal College of Surgeons, to sneak out the remains from dozens of bodies. In all they stole three heads, three torsos, bits of brain, six arms, and a number of legs and feet.
When he got the body parts back to his studio, Kelly created the molds and produced a series of plaster casts that were painted silver and hung on a wall. When he completed the scupltures, rather than return the body parts, Kelly buried remains on his family’s estate, hid them in the London home of a friend, and in the attic of his own home.
Police began investigating Kelly in 1997 after his exhibit received controversial publicity. During police raids at his London studio, his family’s home, and his friend’s home, police found the body parts that Kelly had hidden. In 1998, he was found guilty and sentenced to nine months in prison. Niel Lyndsay, the lab technician who aided him, received a six-month suspended sentence.
Kelly and Lindsay’s guilty verdicts were made possible by a landmark ruling by the trial judge, who ruled that human remains used for medical research could be classified as property, and were stolen in this case. It seems hard to believe, but Kelly and Lyndsay were the first people ever to be convicted in England for stealing body parts. According to The Independent, body snatchers had been charged with the offence of outraging public decency, not stolen property.
Man ‘stole body parts’ for art (1998). Retrieved on January 5, 2014, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/68877.stm
Sengupta, Kim. (1998, April 4). Jail for sculptor who stole body parts. The Independent. Retrieved on January 5, 2014, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/jail-for-sculptor-who-stole-body-parts-1154204.html
Categories: Art and Ephemera