Sane Smith

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Sane and Smith were the names used by a New York graffiti duo, composed of David Smith ("Sane") and his brother Roger Smith ("Smith"), active during the 1980s.


Sane & Smith were among the most persistent taggers in New York during the 1980s. According to Smith, they set themselves and accomplished the goal of leaving a tag every 20 feet in the 60th Street Tunnel.[1] Sane & Smith are particularly notable for painting on the top level of New York's Brooklyn Bridge, after which they were sued by the City of New York for $3 million, the biggest lawsuit to date against graffiti writers.[2] The work covered both sides of the Manhattan tower of the bridge, and was visible for miles.[3]

New York's Transit Police had been tracking Sane & Smith for three years and described them as "one of the top 20 graffiti artists in the city in terms of damage done."[4]

David Smith was not college educated. His brother Roger obtained a degree in computer science from Fordham University, though subsequently gave up his job to paint full-time.[2]

Sane's death[edit]

In October 1990,[5] Sane was found dead in the waters of Flushing Bay.[2] Speculation about the reasons for his death were rife but inconclusive.[6] It was believed he was a good swimmer.[2] In February, aged 19, he had been arrested and had become the first graffiti writer in Manhattan to be formally accused of third-degree criminal mischief.[5][7] The city dropped its lawsuit against Smith after Sane's death.[8]

Roger Smith continued to paint as "Smith", collaborating with Chris Pape ("Freedom").[9] Smith is married to fellow graffiti artist Lady Pink.


  1. ^ Marshall Berman; Brian Berger (15 September 2007). New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg. Reaktion Books. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-86189-338-3. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Jennifer Toth The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City, Chicago Review Press (1993), pp. 119-122. ISBN 1-55652-190-1.
  3. ^ Joe Austin (2001). Taking the Train: How Graffiti Art Became an Urban Crisis in New York City. Columbia University Press. p. 233. ISBN 978-0-231-11143-0. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  4. ^ Kevin Flynn 'Vandalism Draws Ire' Archived 2013-01-31 at, unattributed and undated news article, facsimile reproduced at Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  5. ^ a b Colin Moynihan, 'F.Y.I.', New York Times, February 4, 2001. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  6. ^ Kevin Heldman, 'THE FIRST TIME I meet JA...', Rolling Stone, February 9, 1995. "JA's best friend and writing partner, SANE, a legendary all-city writer... SANE had written his and JA's tag and off to the side, FLYING HIGH THE XTC WAY". Article reproduced on Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  7. ^ 'Man Seized in Subway Yard As Notorious Graffiti Vandal', New York Times, February 12, 1990 (reproduced online at Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  8. ^ L.B. Deyo; David Leibowitz (22 July 2003). Invisible Frontier: Exploring the Tunnels, Ruins, and Rooftops of Hidden New York. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-609-80931-0. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  9. ^ The Mole People, pp. 126 et seq.