Mystery Surrounds Cookie Monster Mural

Illinois artist says he was commissioned to paint mural, only to learn days later the man who paid him does not own the building he worked on. WEEK'S Kyle Beachy reports.

PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK/NBC News) — Artist Joshua Hawkins says nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary when he was recently asked to paint a giant mural on a building in Peoria, Illinois.

Hawkins had met a man at an art show “about a year, year and a half ago,” he said.

That man called him just before Thanksgiving and identified himself as “Nate.”

Hawkins remembered meeting the man before, and even recalled talking about painting a mural for him.

Hawkins went to the location with “Nate” and envisioned the mural the man described. He said it was well put together and already designed on a grid by a graphic artist.

The mural would depict ‘Cookie Monster’ of Sesame Street fame, standing over the Peoria skyline holding up a giant cookie with a straight rainbow emitted from the cookie. At the bottom of the mural it would have three words in Russian.

Hawkins was paid half of the commission before starting, with the understanding the rest would be paid upon completion. He laid some base paint on Friday night after Thanksgiving. Then working sun-up to sun-down that Saturday and Sunday the mural was completed.

“Nate” never showed up to see the mural that night. He didn’t answer when Hawkins called him. “The next day I called him again and still no answer, so I shot him an email and never got any reply from him,” Hawkins explained.

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