October 16, 2018

Former college art-book thief enjoys new attention as local muralist in upcoming art festival


In America, the illusion that you can rebrand yourself despite past infractions is always strongest only attainable for white dudes.

Not actually Spencer Reinhard’s artwork.

Case in point: Spencer Reinhard. To many, he is known as the mastermind behind an epic rare books heist that happened at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, in 2004 (which was turned into a middling action-heist movie this past spring). But his bumbling and amateur past in high-stakes thievery didn’t stop him from finding success in the art world in his own right.  (Okay, okay. Reinhard did serve seven years in jail.) For the Lexington Herald-Leader, Rich Copley writes on his latest commission: a mural at the PRHBTN festival of street art right in Lexington, KY.

Copley also spoke with the founder of PRBHTN, John Winters, who says the reception to Reinhard’s participation has been mixed, but mostly positive. According to Copley, however, Winter hadn’t known Reinhard was involved in the heist when he first invited him to participate.

“Some reaction has been that we shouldn’t be glorifying a criminal… Our position is he did his time and paid his debt to society. We chose him because his art is really great.”

Fair enough.




Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.