A £300,000 artwork has been wrecked by couple after they misunderstood a gallery exhibit.
The man and woman, who are in their twenties, visited a street art exhibition at the Lotte World Mall in Seoul, South Korea, and noticed a brush and pots of paint left near a large untitled work created by New Yorker John Andrew Perello, who goes by the name JonOne.
Assuming that the pots and brushes were an invitation to add to the piece, the pair, who have not been named, added a few touches of dark green paint to the middle of the painting.
In fact, the art materials were part of the display, representing the tools JonOne had used to create the piece.
"The paint and brushes used by the artist comprise a complete set with the graffiti canvas work," Kang Wook, the curator of the exhibition, explained. He told ABC News that the art materials were part of the exhibition to help highlight the history of the artist's work.
Staff noticed the small “improvements” on Sunday, April 4, and checked the gallery’s CCTV in order to identify the culprits.
"We called the police immediately and talked to the insurance company for the damaged artwork," Kang said. "But as the agency in charge, we will do best to minimise the harm to the couple who unintentionally vandalised the work.”
After Seoul police found and questioned the couple, gallery bosses declined to press charges and the pair were released.
Perello does not plan to respond to the incident, according to his agent.
This kind of thing is likely to happen increasingly often, Korean pop culture expert Ha Jae-geun said “due to the characteristics of contemporary art”.
JonOne’s 2016 piece has attracted significantly more public attention in South Korea since the bizarre incident, according to local news reports.
It will remain on display at the Street Noise exhibition at the Lotte World Mall until June 13, , but gallery staff have added a small fence in front of the painting with additional signs saying: "Do Not Touch".
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