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Outside Lehman building, artist captures scorn

Image: A painting of Lehman Brothers' CEO Richard Fuld is displayed by the artist Geoffrey Raymond
Pedestrians scribbled their throughts on a painting of Lehman Brothers' CEO Richard Fuld, by artist Geoffrey Raymond, outside the company’s building in New York. Lehman employees wrote in green.Seth Wenig / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

When controversy looms on Wall Street, chances are that Geoffrey Raymond isn't far behind, magic markers in hand.

The 54-year-old Brooklyn artist has become a regular sight lately on the scene of big Wall Street fiascos, where he gives the public a chance to vent by scrawling comments on his oversized portraits of powerful corporate executives.

He spent Monday and Tuesday outside the Manhattan headquarters of Lehman Brothers, urging passers-by to sign his latest work, a painting of the investment bank's chief executive, Richard Fuld.

Sign they did. Bystanders filled the canvas from edge to edge with comments about greed and comeuppance.

"Blood suckers," read one.

"See you at the soup kitchen!!!" read another.

Lehman Brothers workers were invited to sign, too, as they entered and left the building. Their remarks, recorded in green ink, ranged from wistful to angry.

"What a day. What a year. What a firm," said one.

Another worker scrawled, "You are a coward," next to Fuld's visage.

Called, "The Annotated Fuld," the painting is the latest in a series that began when Raymond turned up outside the offices of Dow Jones & Co. last summer as the company and its flagship newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, were being sold to Rupert Murdoch.

Since then, Raymond has produced similar annotated works of Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who was forced to resign after a prostitution scandal. He is already at work on a new painting of former American International Group chief Hank Greenberg.

Raymond said he has been painting portraits of Wall Street figures for years but only recently became enthralled with the idea of giving the public a role in his work.

"It's about creating a snapshot of this moment in time," he said.

He said he wasn't out to make a statement about capitalism and was just as pleased with the Lehman worker who wrote, "Thanks for the memories," on Fuld's portrait as the one who scrawled, "Sold down the river."

"I just let people comment," he said.

Other subjects in the series unrelated to Wall Street's woes have included Barack Obama, John McCain and Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour.