Earlier this month Brooklyn resident Amanda Needham had her bicycle stolen. In response she created a 8 x 3ft (2.5m x 91cm) cardboard sign that read: To the person who stole my bicycle/I hope you need it more than I do./It was $200 used, and I need it to get to work. I can’t afford another one./Next time, steal a hipster’s Peugeot./Or not steal! PS: Bring it back.
When Brooklyn dealer Stephen S Powers, a specialist in American folk art, saw the sign, he took a picture on his phone and posted it on Instagram. There, it quickly became one of his most popular posts.
And among those who saw it was London folk art dealer Robert Young.
“I thought it was great,” Young says. “I loved the graphics, the scale and the colours, but mainly I loved the tangible raw emotion, frustration and anger in it and with some curious impulse felt drawn to do something about it.”
He got in touch with Powers suggesting that they should buy it together for $200, the price of the stolen item. Powers went to Needham’s house and made the deal.
Soon afterwards, Young left for a sourcing trip to Sweden and came home after nearly a week to find the story of the stolen bicycle and the joint purchase had gone viral on social media under #KarmaCycle. Needham had reported the dealers’ support and other positive responses in a ‘Perspective’ piece for The Washington Post. It had been picked up by other international news outlets.
“It is amazing that a simple, authentic work of ‘street art’, so raw, natural and uninhibited should create such a stir and elicit such a response. It is a great story and way beyond anything we had ever imagined or considered,” Young added.