NYC The Blog has learned from William “Billy” Leroy of Billy's Antiques and Props on E Houston that he was arrested yesterday by the NYPD at his establishment: "hauled away in cuffs and let out 8 hrs later." The NYPD and Transit Police were there requisitioning the subway signs Billy's has long been selling in the aftermarket, and it seems the arrest stems from those transactions.
Yesterday, Young Manhattanite reported the NYPD swarmed Billy's Antiques and Props on E Houston at around 11am for unknown reasons, using bolt cutters and documenting the scene with a video camera. NYC The Tumblr dug up a photo of the scene from Twitter user @andyellwood (seen at right).
In an email to NYC The Blog this morning, Billy fills us in the events that transpired yesterday, after selling the subway signs without incident for ten years:
"When we first got [the signs a decade ago] and put them on the sidewalk, a van full of cops pulled up and asked "hey buddy where did you get those signs?" We put them on the phone with our source, a subcontractor and maker of signs and they went away.Were all his signs repossed by the City of New York? What laws did the NYPD allege he violated and was he charged with a crime? Was the source of his signs also charged with a crime? NYC The Blog has sent follow up questions to Billy as well as the NYPD and will update with any new information.
..now they're back but this time I was hauled away in cuffs and let out 8 hrs later. Sadly I think it is the end of the subway signs at Billy's. The Transit Police were doing there job and where very professional. My question to the MTA is why did they act now and not 12 years ago but all this will be played out in court."
Curious people have often wondered where William “Billy” Leroy acquires his subway and street signs. His source is a “trade secret,” he told NYCTB in 2008: “If I made it public then every shop would have them I am the only shop to my knowledge that sell the signs legally and have had been selling them for 10 years.”
UPDATE: Billy responds via email: "Yes they took all of them...and I am not selling any more signs...all of the signs where bought legitimately..."