It's been quite awhile since we've seen some serious subway tagging, but it seems we've found our first colorful casualty of 2013. This photo, taken by Jocelyn Goldstein, was snapped at the W 4th Street Station in Manhattan this week; it's hard to tell what train it is, but obviously we can narrow it down to... B/D/F/M or A/C/E. We've contacted the MTA for comment, but it's a safe bet that the train has probably been identified and scrubbed by now.
Some graffiti enthusiasts speculate that this tag was done by Europeans, although it's unclear why they think so. Our own resident graffiti expert Jake Dobkin said he didn't recognize the handiwork, but agrees it could be out-of-towners: "Europeans do love to come to NYC and try to get up on a train. Most New York writers don't, because they know how quickly the trains will get buffed."
A few years ago, a Daily News report found that 70% of elaborate subway car graffiti is created by Europeans. And at the end of 2011, a 25-year-old French graffiti artist named Maxime Bezat was charged for tagging subway cars and stations in both NYC and Boston.
While Dobkin appreciates their moxie, he has some criticism for their form: "I find it kind of weird that we exported this art form to Europe, and it comes all the way back to write on our trains looking exactly the same. Why can't Germans come up with their own style of vandalism?"
Update: An MTA spokesman got back to us to confirm that the graffiti is already gone: "Trains with graffiti are taken out of service after it completes a run and the graffiti is removed within 24 hours. NYPD is also notified of the incident."
Update: The MTA spokesman did a little more digging about the graffiti incident for us: "This train was hit in an area outside of a yard. It was removed from service at 59th Street and the photo was taken as it was heading down to Coney Island Yard to be cleaned. It took three hours to remove the graffiti from the car." And for the record: it was a B train.