Museums Conservation USA

Picasso vandal sentenced to two years jail time

Uriel Landeros claimed defacement of work at the Menil Collection, Houston was political statement

An art student who vandalised Picasso’s Woman in a Red Armchair, 1929, at the Menil Collection in Houston, was sentenced to two years in prison on 21 May after pleading guilty to charges of graffiti and criminal mischief. Uriel Landeros, 22, was caught stencilling a bull and bullfighter, along with the word “conquista” (conquer), on a video taken by a museum visitor that was posted on YouTube.

Landeros, who initially fled to Mexico, also posted a video to YouTube explaining his actions. “My intention was never to destroy Pablo’s painting or to insult the Menil. If I would have wanted to destroy the painting, I would have ripped it with a knife or burnt it. But that was never my intention. I’m sorry for insulting anyone who has misunderstood my message, but I’m a good enough alchemist to know that the professionals in the Menil could easily restore the piece with a little bit of Windex [a domestic surface cleaner]. My intentions are to give a voice to the public, to all those who go unheard of. Unfortunately, our society has become nothing but a corrupt, war-making, murdering, raping society.”

Two other major paintings have recently been defaced. Mark Rothko’s Red on Maroon, 1959, was vandalised last October at Tate Modern in London, while Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, 1830, was damaged with a graffiti “tag” in February at the Louvre-Lens in France.

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