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Corpse Flower May Mask Scent of Dead Bodies, 'Botanical Banksy' Warns

By Nicole Levy | August 2, 2016 5:02pm | Updated on August 2, 2016 5:25pm
 Over 25,000 people went to the New York Botanical Garden in The Bronx to see the
Over 25,000 people went to the New York Botanical Garden in The Bronx to see the "corpse flower" during its short bloom cycle. They also saw some interesting fliers.
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New York Botanical Garden

It would have made a compelling "Law & Order" episode. 

A witness visits the New York Botanical Garden to see and smell the rare, malodorous "corpse flower" in bloom — only to find an actual corpse hidden nearby, its stench masked by the plant's. 

That was the scenario described by a series of gag fliers posted in and around the garden last week, after the flower of an Amorphophallus titanium — its first in almost a decade — began unfurling and releasing the scent of rotting flesh Thursday afternoon. 

"Criminals have historically taken advantage of the corpse flower’s pungent bloom," warned some of the fliers planted among the NYBG's official informational brochures and posted in the nearby Metro-North station. "If you see any human remains during your visit to the garden, please alert a staff member immediately."

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A flier posted in and around the New York Botanical Garden last week (credit: Kat Thek)

The posters were soon debunked online. 

"An artist has taken some 'liberties' with our logo," the NYBG's Twitter account announced, anointing the fliers' creator with one very clever nickname — Botanical Banksy.

”I feel like I should update my driver’s license," said Kat Thek, the woman behind the posters.

Although some would call her an artist, she calls herself something else.

"I'm a small business owner, and I want to spread awareness about what's really going on in the garden," she said.

Among the tongue-in-cheek products and services Thek has advertised on pull-tab fliers in Brooklyn: cat hair pills "made from the finest hair of organic, free-range cats with only occasional antibiotic usage"; Friends Forever Tampons, or two tampons joined with one string "that will bring you extremely close to your best friend for up to eight hours at a time"; and used wax strip fortune telling, because "wax strips are the new tea leaves."

Thek finds humor in all things repellant, including waiting in line as one of the 25,000 floral aficionados who made the pilgrimage to The Bronx to smell the garden's first blooming corpse flower in nearly 80 years.

"The whole thing was very funny," she said.

corpse flower poster

An FAQ flier that reveals Thek's anti-Trump political affiliations (credit: Kat Thek)

Thek left jesting mementos behind: "crime watch" notices; fliers reporting the likelihood of an attempt by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to pollinate the blossom; and others advising dog owners to keep their blood-tracking hounds away.

NYBG spokesman Nicholas Leshi got the joke: "Regarding the mysterious comedian responsible for the fake flyers ... we certainly have a sense of humor," he said in an email.

Still, he continued, garden administrators are discouraging would-be copycats from posting unauthorized bills with the organization's logo around the neighborhood.

Always an original, Thek may parlay her corpse flower posters into yet another creative and entrepreneurial project. 

”It’s my lifelong dream to be a jogger that finds a body on 'Law & Order,' or to be the body they find," she told DNAinfo New York. "I’m assembling a reel if you know anybody I should send it to."