Phonehenge Builder Sentenced to Jail for Not Paying for his Own Art’s Destruction

After having his monolithic folk art creation Phonehenge West destroyed, Alan Kimble Fahey was sentenced last week to nearly 18 months of jail time for failing to pay for its demolition himself. The LA Times reports that the Acton, California-based retired phone technician was ordered to pay over $83,000 for the August 2011 dismantling of Phonehenge, and had only repaid $1,250.

L.A. County Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell was skeptical about Fahey’s claimed inability to pay, and stated that Fahey had “knowingly and willfully disobeyed” his probation rules, LAist reports.

It’s likely that the 539 day sentence will be abbreviated due to Fahey’s heart condition, as well as the fact that it is a nonviolent crime. Supporters had celebrated the towering lattice of telephone poles and precarious rooms in the Mojave Desert as a work of art, while Los Angeles County code enforcement officials saw it as a violation that was liable to collapse, leading to five years of court battles centering on Fahey’s failure to get permits before constructing the structure. The Associated Press reports that Fahey claimed that he had obtained permits for the building before its construction that were lost by the county.

Phonehenge was a three decades long project amounting to some 20,000 square feet, with the elaborate compound involving stained glass, windmills that generated energy, and a tower that reached a height of 70 feet. It’s hardly the only structure of sprawling, and potentially unsafe outsider art in the United States; the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, not far from the former site of Phonehenge, may be the most famous work of the sort. But while the Watts Towers earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places, Phonehenge and its creator continue to be met with stern confrontation from the California law.

Allison Meier

(Image: Alan Kimble Fahey with Phonehenge West before its destruction, via Save Phonehenge West’s Facebook page)