Art And Culture

Boy Trips in Museum, Punches Hole Through $1.5m Painting

Boy Trips in Museum, Punches Hole Through $1.5m Painting
Boy Trips in Museum, Punches Hole Through $1.5m Painting

A 12-year-old Taiwanese boy lived out a slapstick nightmare at the weekend when he tripped at a museum and broke his fall with a painting, smashing a hole in it.

Exhibition organizers said the painting was a 350-year-old Paolo Porpora oil on canvas work called Flowers, valued at $1.5 million.

Footage released by the organizers of the Face of Leonardo: Images of a Genius exhibition in Taipei shows the boy walk past the still life, catching his foot and stumbling over, Focus Taiwan reported.

He looks up at the canvas, shown later to have a fist-sized gash at the bottom, and freezes, looking around at other people in the room.

The organizers will not ask the boy’s family to pay for the restoration costs, according to Focus Taiwan news. It said the exhibition organizer, Sun Chi-hsuan, said the boy was very nervous but should not be blamed and the painting, part of a private collection, was insured.

“The painting’s bottom right is damaged,” Sun later told reporters. “The boy’s hand made contact with the artwork and left a hole the size of a fist.”

The exhibition, which also includes portraits of Leonardo, shows 55 paintings “gathered from the finest art collectors in the world”, the organizers said.

“All 55 paintings are authentic pieces and they are very rare and precious,” a post on the exhibition’s Facebook page said. “Once these works are damaged, they are permanently damaged.”

Porpora was a leading still life artist who produced baroque-style paintings, often of fruit and flowers. The damaged work, 200cm tall, depicts flowers in a vase.

Tsai Shun-Jen, chief conservator, said the painting was very fragile due to its age. “When we start working on the painting’s restoration, the priority is to strengthen its structure, not retouching the paint on the damaged area,” he said.

 Art Fumblers

The boy joins a short list of art fumblers. In 2006, a man tripped over his shoelace in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in the UK and smashed three 300-year-old Chinese vases. In 2010, a woman at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art fell into a Picasso, causing a 15 cm tear.

Possibly the most egregious blunder was by the casino mogul Steve Wynn, who elbowed Picasso’s 1932 masterpiece Le Rêve. Wynn still managed to sell the painting in 2013 for $155 million, a record sum.

In 2012, a Dublin man was given a six-year prison sentence for damaging a Monet painting in Ireland estimated to be worth €10 million.

Andrew Shannon, 49, pleaded not guilty to punching through “Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat”, painted in 1874 by the French impressionist.

It took 18 months to restore the Monet painting, which is now back on display at the National Gallery. Shannon said he had been dizzy and fallen forward.