California street artist ABOVE managed to get away with spray painting an anti-diamond industry message outside one of the world's largest diamond trading centers.
First, ABOVE obtained formal permission to paint the first half of his message, the familiar slogan, "Diamonds are a woman's best friend," outside the walls of Johannesburg's largest diamond exporter, known as Jewel City. But he then added, "And a man's worst enemy."
Jewel City, a six-block precinct, is home to a reported 300 diamond traders and South Africa's Diamond Board and State Traders Association.
The street artist created the mural to protest "blood diamonds." There has been a growing opposition to the procurement and sale of diamonds from African war zones. In December 2000, the United Nations first spoke out against what it calls "Conflict Diamonds," citing a claim between "the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict."
In an interview with the website Arrested Motion, ABOVE says:
"I was able to get away with this diamond wall heist because I told the owners I would paint in big letters 'Diamonds are a woman's best friend' on the exterior of their building. The owners loved the idea and all quickly agreed. The next day I had started painting but what the owners didn't know is that I lied to them and was hijacking their wall."
"I assume the owners were too busy trading diamonds inside the mega centre they never took the time to come out and see I was painting a controversial word play about the diamond trade and how it's fueled so much bloodshed in wars making it one of man's worst enemies."
There's still no word about how the operators of Jewel City have responded, though it's unlikely the graffiti will stay up for long.
Last month, it was announced that a Swiss jeweler had created the world's first all-diamond ring. The 150-carat diamond has an estimated value of $70 million.
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