Rothko painting defacer jailed

12:08 13 December 2012

Twitter user Tim Wright (@WrightTG) took this picture of the defaced Rothko painting. Picture: Tim Wright (@WrightTG)/Twitter

Twitter user Tim Wright (@WrightTG) took this picture of the defaced Rothko painting. Picture: Tim Wright (@WrightTG)/Twitter

Archant

A man has been jailed for two years for defacing a painting by artist Mark Rothko.

Wlodzimierz Umaniec, 26, also known as Vladimir Umanets, defaced the mural, worth in the region of £5million to £9m, at London’s Tate Modern gallery on October 7 this year.

Umaniec, a Polish national living in Worthing, West Sussex, admitted criminal damage to the value of in excess of £5,000 - but estimates suggest the restoration of the painting will cost around £200,000.

Judge Roger Chapple, at Inner London Crown Court, told Umaniec: “Your actions on the 7th of October of this year were entirely deliberate, planned and intentional.”

The vandal, who co-founded the artistic movement “yellowism”, stepped over a barrier in the art gallery and daubed his name and the words “12 a potential piece of yellowism” before fleeing.

The court heard that he went to the gallery intending to put his “signature” on a picture, but decided to damage the Rothko painting only at the time he saw it on display.

The gallery was then put into “operation shutdown” with people prevented from leaving or entering the building.

Speaking about “yellowism”, Judge Chapple said it was “wholly and utterly unacceptable to promote it by damaging a work of art” which he called a “gift to the nation”.

He said it was “abundantly clear” that Umaniec was “plainly an intelligent man” and told the court he had described Rothko as a “great painter” in a letter he had written to him.

The judge also said the incident had led to galleries reviewing security arrangements at a cost to themselves and the taxpayer.

“The effects of such security reviews is to distance the public from the works of art they come to enjoy,” he said.

Gregor McKinley, prosecuting, said: “Sotheby’s has given Tate Modern a verbal estimate of pre-damage value of approximately between £5 million to just over £9 million.”

He added: “The work required to restore this picture will be complex and lengthy.

“Complications to this work include the unique painting technique used by the artist and the fact the ink used by Mr Umaniec has permeated the paint layers and the canvas itself.”

Mr McKinley said work to restore the painting will take about 20 months and cost “something around £200,000”.

Gareth Morgan, defending, said it would take a “significant amount of effort, expert effort at that” to restore the “important, valuable piece of art”.

Paintings by Russian-born artist Rothko often fetch tens of millions of pounds.

Earlier this year, his Orange, Red, Yellow sold for £53.8 million - the highest price paid for a piece of post-War art at auction.

The 1961 painting went under the hammer at Christie’s in New York.

The defaced painting, called Black On Maroon, was donated to the Tate in 1969 by Rothko himself.

Related articles

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Crime news

Monday, February 8, 2016
A non fatal shooting took place in Tulse Hill last night (Picture: ?@stoopnik / Twitter)

Armed police raced to Tulse Hill yesterday evening after locals heard gunshots and found a man shot in the street.

Sunday, February 7, 2016
An 18-year-old has been charged with murder (Picture: Street View)

A teenager has been charged with murder after a 27-year-old man died from stab wounds in Plaistow Park, Newham, just over a week ago.

Friday, February 5, 2016
Nemash Patel photographed the police cordon

Thousands of commuters were evacuated from one of the city’s biggest train stations today, as a suspected World War Two bomb was found on a building site near Victoria.

Friday, February 5, 2016
George Verrier was punched when he tried to calm down a fight. He hit his head on the pavement and later died (Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

)

Two Metropolitan police officers have been dismissed for gross misconduct after the death of 17-year-old George Villiers who was punched at a party in Bromley.

Thursday, February 4, 2016
They hit him with his own cane (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Police are hunting for two men responsible for a sickening attack the Grahame Park estate in Colindale.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Franklyn Mathurin pleaded guilty to the burglary (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

A man who stole a laptop full of family photographs of a young boy as his father was burying him has been caught and jailed.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Read more
Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Read more

Latest Tech News

Transport