In the ’90s, legendary graffiti artist Adam Cost papered New York with his work, wheatpasting sly, hilarious, all-caps tributes to himself (“COST Fucked Madonna” was the best-loved one) on every available surface before abruptly going silent. In early 2013 or so, as we reported at the time, he returned, and suddenly Manhattan’s scaffolds and street signs were full of COSTs once again. That is, until this past Sunday, when police officers in the NYPD’s weirdly named Cabaret Unit, the quality-of-life-crimes patrol out of Manhattan’s Sixth Precinct, say they caught him in the act, walking away from a fresh tag with his clothes covered in wheatpaste.
– See also: The Return of Cost: The Tag Machine is Back
In March 2013, Cost didn’t want to tell our reporter J. Pablo much about what had prompted his return from his long hiatus, or what he’d been up to in the meantime. He did volunteer that instead of working with his legendary longtime partner, REVS, he’d paired up with a female artist, ENX. (He told Animal New York‘s Bucky Turco and Marina Galperina that he’d begun working again briefly around 2005, then re-emerged for good in 2010).
The NYPD was just as excited about Cost’s return as the general public, albeit in a slightly different way. In a news release, officers from both the Cabaret Unit and the Sixth Precinct as a whole said they’d noticed the return of his tags and started reading up on his work.
SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO PAY HOMAGE TO A CLASSIC INSTITUTION OF OLD NEW YORK – it’s like pairing the perfect craft brew with a distinctive cheese…circa – still wet yo!!
“Everyone in my unit was aware of what this guy looks like,” Officer Colin Sullivan is quoted as saying in the release. “I’ve been boring these guys to death with Adam Cost pictures.”
That’s certainly one way to spend your time. On Sunday morning around 4 a.m., three Cabaret Unit officers roaming around West 13th Street in the meatpacking district say they spotted a man walking to his car, his clothes covered in goop, “an extendable pole with a wet brush affixed to it” in his hand. The officers looked up to see a fresh COST tag above a rare-wine shop nearby. There was fresh adhesive dripping from it, they say, and a nearly full drum of glue nearby.
The NYPD reports it found the lid to the drum right next to Cost’s alleged car, a Porsche Cayenne. On Wednesday, after obtaining a search warrant, they went into the car and found more drums and brushes.
Court records show Cost is being charged with two counts of “possession of a graffiti instrument,” one count of making graffiti, one count of criminal mischief with an intent to damage property, and one count of criminal mischief with property damage greater than $250. All are misdemeanors except for the property damage charge, which is a class E felony; that’s a non-violent offense that carries no possible jail time and a maximum of four years’ probation. His next court date is tomorrow, October 10. RIP Cost, maybe.