In Your Face: Portraits of Wall Street Whipping Boys

Lianting Tu

During the financial crisis, many Americans turned their collective anger toward Wall Street. Geoffrey Raymond has turned this anger into street art.

Since the crisis erupted a year ago, the New York City-based painter has done a series of portraits of what he calls “Wall Street titans and villains.”

Man signing painting of Richard Fuld
Photo by: Geoffrey Raymond

Among them: Bear Stearns CEO James Cayne, LehmanBrothers boss Richard Fuld, Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the current treasurer, Tim Geithner.

Lately, Raymond has been exhibiting Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, an ongoing taget for blame who recently announced his resignationby the end of this year.

Raymond has been exhibiting the paintings in front of Manhattan’s key financial venues, such as New York Stock Exchange and Lehman’s mid-town skyscraper. Unlike most artists, who would cringe at the thought of others defacing their work, Raymond invites people to vent their anger on his paintings.

“Would you like to write something on my painting?” Raymond asks passers-by. Many pick up the magic marker and scrawl away.

The remarks range from the profane to the poignant. Many are bitter, but some have a sense of humor.

"Why didn't you see this coming?"

"May you get what you deserve!"

"Where's my bailout?"

"Coffee guy says go to hell!"

"Should we all have to pay for others' mistakes?"

The artist recalls one line that touched him the most. He describes the scribbler as “a very well-dressed man that seems to make $3 million a year.”

Yet what he put down was: "How do I explain to my two-year-old son that I am at home?"

Over the past year, as more people scribble on his paintings, Raymond has noticed a subtle change in attitude since the crisis began. Outrage has turned to resignation.

“It used to be people would grab the marker out of my hands and write something. Now they are sort of trudging along and that’s sad to see,” the artist says.