Lincoln Memorial Vandalized
In the early hours of the morning on July 26, 2013, vandals splashed the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. with green paint. Police immediately closed the monument for clean up and began investigating who may have been responsible. As of writing, there are no suspects to this case.
Denver Woman Punches, Wipes Rear End on Painting, then Pees Herself
In January 2012, a drunk Denver woman named Carmen Tisch decided to add her own touch to a $30-to-$40 million museum painting by scratching it, punching it, and wiping her bare bottom on it. Once the defilement was complete, Tisch crumbled to the floor and peed herself. The painting, by artist Clyfford Still, was spared any contact with the urine but still sustained about $10,000 worth of damage.
The police were called immediately following the offense, and Tisch was soon arrested. She was ultimately charged with criminal mischief. Tisch's mother describes her as a long-time alcoholic; she has previously been convicted for drunk driving.
Though, to be fair, it was an expressionistic painting, and to Tisch it could have looked like a toilet.
The Nose Thief of Villa Borghese
Officials at Pincio Gardens in the Villa Borghese were confounded when the noses of famous statues started disappearing in 1985. The vandalism occurred over a span of months, and more than 80 noses were severed from sculptures of both famous and infamous Italians like Christopher Columbus and Machiavelli. Defaced pieces included works by Bernini, among other artists.
Eventually, police caught on to the culprit, a biology professor who was wandering around with a plastic bag filled with the stolen marble schnozes. The man appeared to be mentally unbalanced, claiming that the KGB was after him and then handing police a note reading, "I am a UFO," which seems like the most logical explanation for anything ever.
Michaelangelo's "David" Survives Hammer Beating
In 1991, a 47-year-old, unemployed, Italian man named Piero Cannata entered the Galleria dell'Accademia museum in Florence with a hammer hidden in his jacket. When he approached Michaelangelo's "David" sculpture, which some hail as the most famous sculpture in the world, he took out his weapon and attacked the piece, breaking one of the toes of the left foot.
Museum-goers attempted to stop the attacker from causing any further damage until security arrived on the scene. Cannata, who police described as "deranged," claimed that he committed the act because a 16th-century Venetian painter's model, "Nani," had instructed him to. Ultimately, all fragments of the toe were recovered, allowing the sculpture to be repaired. At least the David's most "special" part was safe, since Cannata was too short to reach it.
In 2005, Cannata was caught spray-painting a giant X on a plaque set into the ground of the Piazza della Signoria. When asked why he did it, he said it was because the sentence on the plaque "made no sense."
"Rokeby Venus" Defiled with a Meat Cleaver
The "Rokeby Venus" by Diego Velázquez goes by many names: "La Venus del espejo," "Venus and Cupid," "The Toilet of Venus," (really?) and "Venus at her Mirror." Most likely, suffragette Mary Richardson didn't care much what the painting was called when she attacked the piece with her meat cleaver at London’s National Gallery in 1914. She managed to inflict seven large slash wounds on the painting in her attempt to "destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history."
Pankhurst committed the offense to protest the arrest of friend and fellow suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst. She thought of the defacement as payback for the government destroying "the most beautiful character in modern history." Richardson served six months in jail for her actions.
Banksy Vs. King Robbo
Now-mainstream street artist Banksy apparently has a running feud with King Robbo, who is credited with founding the London graffiti scene. In October, 2011, one of Banksy's pieces in Bristol was painted over in solid black, along with the tagging "Team Robbo." The piece, which featured a child standing behind a police officer with a blown-up paper bag, ready to burst it, had been in place for four years above a store in Bristol. It is unclear whether or not it will be restored.
It is not quite clear who defaced Banksy's work. King Robbo is said to be retired, and the act could have been committed by him or by one of his followers. Robbo and Banksy (or perhaps their fans – hard to know given the elusive nature of the genre) have been defacing each other's work for the past two years.
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