A witness at a Texas museum told police a man who identified himself as an “up-and-coming Mexican-American artist” was responsible for defacing artwork by Pablo Picasso.
Picasso’s 1929 “Woman in a Red Armchair” was hanging in Houston’s Menil Collection when a witness, who was texting a friend, looked up and saw a man getting unusually close to the painting. Thinking quickly, the witness hit the camera button on his phone and began recording the bizarre and very quick incident.
The unidentified man managed to spray paint the word “conquista” - Spanish for “conquest” - across Picasso’s work before walking off.
Quickly, museum guards discovered the vandalized work and rushed the painting to the museum’s on-site conservation lab.
The spray paint had not fully dried and Menil’s communications director told the Houston Chronicle that restoration efforts for the painting have been going well and that the spray paint has been removed.
As for the culprit, the unnamed witness says he identified himself as a Mexican-America up-and-coming artist who said he was honoring Picasso’s work by spray painting it.
Houston Police are continuing their investigation, and should he be caught, the vandal faces a charge of criminal mischief, with a maximum penalty of two years jail.
“Woman in a Red Armchair” is one of nine Picassos the museum has and was purchased by John and Dominique de Menil in 1956. Museum spokesmen say they hope to have the painting back on display by the end of this week.