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Testimony Begins In Graffiti Artist Shepard Fairey's Detroit Property Damage Case

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Is it street art...or vandalism?

The preliminary examination has started in the case of world-renowned graffiti artist Shepard Fairey — known for his iconic Obama "Hope" poster — who accused of illegally tagging buildings in Detroit.

Fairey, 45, is charged with malicious destruction of property after fourteen buildings and structures were vandalized, according to police.

An attorney for the city has said three of nine properties that were damaged are city-owned. The total damage has been estimated at around $30,000.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday if Fairey would testify.

Fairey visited Detroit in May when he was commissioned by Bedrock Real Estate Services, Meridian Health and Library Street Collective to paint a 184-foot by 60 foot mural and six smaller works in the art-filled alley known as 'The Belt."

He turned himself in in July.

WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with Bob Sestok, a Detroit artist, who says many times artwork on buildings makes the real estate more desirable.

"I did work on a building and the building immediate sold after I put my work on it," Sestok said.

"I don't think we should go after him in a malicious manner," he added. "I think that, you know, he's a very talented artist and deserves a huge amount of support for what he does; and bringing his art to Detroit has been really a very good thing."

Defense attorney Bradley Friedman has said the "expectation is that Mr. Fairey will be vindicated.

In an unrelated case, Fairey in 2011 agreed to pay $1.6 million in a legal dispute after using an Associated Press photo in his famous Obama poster.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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