At the Scope Miami art fair in 2010, Miami’s Spinello gallery sold two sculptures by local artist Enrique Gomez De Molina, whose works are created by sewing together parts of exotic animals. But when the collectors attempted to take the works back to Canada they were busted for exporting parts of endangered and protected animals, and De Molina’s ensuing legal troubles are only now being resolved.
After pleading guilty in December De Molina was sentenced today to 20 months in federal prison, a year’s probation, and a $6,000 fine. He’ll also have to forfeit his impressive collection of animal parts.
An extensive list of the illegal animal corpses (and future sculpture components) that De Molina was on trial for trafficking appears in this Department of Justice announcement, and reads like a shopping list for someone about to open a zoo:
the defendant attempted to import wildlife species including skins of a Java kingfisher (Halcyon cyanoventris) and a collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), one mounted lesser bird of paradise (Paradisaea minor), the skin of a juvenile hawk-eagle (Spizaetus sp.), the carcass remnant of a slow loris (Nycticebus coucang) and the carcass remnant of a lesser mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus)
Not a slow loris! But wait, there’s more:
The joint factual statement describes the importation into the U.S. of the parts, skins and remains of species, including a king cobra, a pangolin, hornbills, birds of paradise, and the skulls of babirusa and orangutans.
And, yes, more:
Some of the endangered and protected wildlife he selected was alive at the time it was photographed, including a wooly stork, a slow loris, and a hornbill, and later sent to him dead.
As if the extensive list of dead animals weren’t sufficiently damning, Luis J. Santiago, Special Agent in Charge of the Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Region, offers this New York Times-worthy takedown of De Molina’s hybrid taxidermy monsters:
The taxidermy work that Mr. De Molina considered artwork is nothing more than a shameful use of the world’s wildlife resources, by promoting the illegal take, and trafficking of protected species.
— Benjamin Sutton
(Enrique Gomez De Molina, “Rhinoplasty,” 2010; image courtesy the artist and Spinello Gallery)