MIT Professor Allegedly Robs Two Banks

An ex-Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor is reportedly also a bank robber, but it’s a case of art imitating life, or something along those lines.

The NYPD arrested experimental filmmaker Joseph Gibbons, 61, a former lecturer at the prestigious university, for allegedly robbing a Capitol One bank of $1,000 on New Year’s Eve. He also allegedly robbed a Providence, R.I., bank of $3,000 in November.

While he was awaiting his arraignment in a Manhattan court, Gibbons apparently told a cellmate that the heist was just part of research for a film, the New York Post reported. Bail was set at $50,000, and he is due back in court on April 14. In the interim, Providence cops appear likely to charge him in the first caper.

“Gibbons has admitted to entering the Capital One Bank at Bowery and Grand streets at 1:51 p.m. and handing the teller a note that read ‘This is a robbery. Large bills. No dye packs/ No GPS,’ before pulling a pink and silver video camera out of his pocket and filming the hold-up, New York police said,” the Boston Herald detailed.

Gibbons taught in MIT’s Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) program from 2002 to 2010. Several art institutions have granted Gibbons various awards and fellowships, such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and his films have been shown in museums here and abroad. His ACT profile explains in part that “Gibbons’ work in film and video is characterized by a time-honored approach — that of the artist’s use of his own life as source material, a laboratory for self-observation and experimentation,” while also indicating that his work blurs “the boundaries between fact and fiction.”

He separately told the Post that a French poet inspired him to get directly involved in performance art.

“I read the works of Arthur Rimbaud, who essentially believed a poet had to descend into the depths of all that was bad and report back his whole thing has been one long project about discovering the disenfranchised portions of society.”

Gibbons claimed that he ultimately went through with the robbery because he was down on his luck and “the desperation of not having any money and not having a place to stay, not having anything to eat….”

A prior film depicted Gibbons “shooting up heroin, shoplifting, and meeting with a parole officer after several theft arrests,” the New York Daily News reported.

A former colleague described Gibbons as “very eccentric” and “extremely smart.”

Following the New York City bank robbery/art project, the former MIT professor admitted that “one of my former students… turned me in. He was worried about me.”

[image via YouTube]

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