GREENWICH VILLAGE — A graffiti artist who was a major player in the city's street art world in the 1990s was arrested in Greenwich Village last week and is now facing a felony charge, police said.
Adam Cole, 45, was nabbed by an officer who had been tracking him for months, after noticing his wheat paste posters popping up in the neighborhood earlier this year, police said.
The posters, which were emblazoned with "Cost," Cole's nickname, were first discovered by NYPD officer Colin Sullivan on the back of stop signs at Washington Street and West 13th Street, and at West Fourth Street and Charles Street in early January, Sullivan said in a court statement.
Sullivan spotted more "Cost" posters on Sept. 3 on scaffolding outside 155 Bleecker St. and began canvassing the neighborhood, collecting anecdotes from deli and bar owners who said the posters had caused hundreds of dollars worth of damage to their doors and windows. Sullivan collected video surveillance showing Cost in action, putting up posters at Bar Nana, at 63 Gansevoort St., last May.
Then on Oct. 5, Sullivan's late-night patrol squad was out in the Meatpacking District on West 13th Street about 3:45 a.m. when a sergeant and another officer spotted Cole holding a brush on the end of an extension pole, according to police records.
A new "Cost" poster was affixed to the 20-foot-high scaffolding in front of 237 W. 13th St., police said, and there was a bucket of glue on the sidewalk below the poster.
Cole initially claimed he was just an artist who happened to be walking by, but after Sullivan confronted him, Cole replied, "You know my graffiti," police said.
Cole was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, a felony, as well as possession of graffiti instruments and making graffiti.
Cole was released after paying $2,500 cash bail, records show. He is set to appear in court on Oct. 10. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
The last time Cole was arrested for graffiti was in 1995, when a Queens criminal court judge sentenced him to 200 days of cleaning up graffiti, three years' probation, $2,180 in fines and psychological counseling.
"This is not a slap on the wrist, this is a serious sentence," the judge, Joel Blumenfeld, reportedly said when handing down sentence two decades ago. "This is so that you can be an example to anyone who thinks that they can get away with this."
Cole laid low for a while after that, focusing his energies on less illegal art. In a 2011 interview he said, "I don't want to run from the law anymore."