Photos of his taxidermy hybrid art work went viral earlier this year, but Enrique Gomez de Molina claims he had no idea his art could land him in jail.
While his taxidermy sculptures are both dream-like and nightmarish, it is not so gruesome one could see it as illegal art. However, the art itself is not the problem. De Molina is currently serving a 20-month sentence for using parts of endangered animals and some on the brink of joining those on the list.
De Molina caught the attention in of the federal government in 2009 when packages from Indonesia containing undeclared animals parts was intercepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. The packages contained the skin of a collared kingfisher, the skin of a Java kingfisher, the skin of a juvenile hawk-eagle, and a mounted lesser bird of paradise, as well as the carcass remnants of a slow loris and lesser mouse deer. In that package alone, at least one – the slow loris – is an endangered animal.
The packages were seized in new York, but were heading to De Molina in Miami, and he says he purchased them on eBay and had no idea what he was buying could put him behind bars.
Despite his claims however, the now 49-year-old had reportedly instructed sellers to wrap the animals parts in carbon paper to avoid being detected at customs. Authorities also say the artist’s claims that he purchased the parts of dead animals, he did so by looking at photos of live ones, implying that they were killed specifically to serve the demand.
Though De Molina is understandably upset to no longer be allowed to do his work, as he in incarcerated, he was warned. After his packages were intercepted in 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services sent a Notice of Seizure and Proposed Forfeiture via certified mail. After ignoring it initially, De Molina eventually agreed to forfeit the parts.
However, the artist continued to import animal parts and as result, he was arrested and as previously stated, is serving a 20-year sentence.
His last piece before being sent to jail was Don’t Hog the Spotlight. The creation is described as being “a lumbering upright mythical mammal, covered in moose and wild boar skin and trimmed in emu feathers, with the feet of a hippo and a longish snout fashioned to look like a South American tapir’s, is led by a much smaller being that is half goose, half monkey. The captive beast, eyes cast down, rope around his neck, does not resist the little guy he could easily take out with one swipe of his Frankenstein hoof. “
De Molina told The Miami Herald:
This is what it feels to be me right now. I’m feeling chained and dragged to be gawked at. To be shown as a spectacle, as an example.
The piece is now being held at the home of his art dealer, Bernice Steinbaum in Coconut Grove, Florida.