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Controversy erupts over removal of Blu's antiwar mural at MOCA [updated]

December 13, 2010 | 11:06 am

Bluwithborder Has MOCA, which bills itself as the artist's museum, engaged in some large-scale preemptive censorship?

Street art blogs were buzzing this weekend with word that the L.A. museum had commissioned an Italian artist known as Blu to do a mural on the north wall of the Geffen Contemporary, only to paint over the work before it was officially unveiled because of its political content.

As seen in this image from the blog, the mural featured rows of military-style coffins draped with dollar bills instead of flags.

The Geffen is located near a Veterans Administration clinic building in downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Downtown News reported that VA officials did not complain to MOCA, but the article speculated that the mural "may have struck a delicate nerve center that sits just steps from the wall."

Details about the mural's creation and removal -- and who authorized both -- are not entirely clear. And the lead source for the Downtown News report, among others, is Daniel Lahoda, the force behind the JetSet Graffiti e-commerce site

Lahoda also happens to be the subject of a "crime alert" posted online by the Los Angeles Police Department this year, which describes a history of embezzlement at previous jobs and more recent consumer complaints of "art ordered and paid for but never delivered." According to the notice, he "is not wanted by the police at this time," but if "you are aware of similar incidents involving Daniel Lahoda, please contact LAPD’s Art Theft Detail at (213) 486-6940 or by e-mail at"

Click here for an updated story. And here for Blu's reaction.

--Jori Finkel