Two members of an environmental activist group threw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” painting on Friday morning at London’s National Gallery. Afterward, the protesters glued their hands to the wall.
The group, Just Stop Oil, issued a statement demanding the U.K. government stop all new oil and gas projects, according to CBS News.
In the tweet below, the group blamed the oil and gas industry for today’s record inflation and the current climate crisis. They asked, “Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice?”
🌻🥫 BREAKING: SOUP THROWN ON VAN GOGH’S ‘SUNFLOWERS’ 🥫🌻
🖼 Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice?
— Just Stop Oil ⚖️💀🛢 (@JustStop_Oil) October 14, 2022
The incident was recorded by the museum’s surveillance cameras.
The gallery published a statement on Twitter which read, “At just after 11 am this morning two people entered Room 43 of the National Gallery. The pair appeared to glue themselves to the wall adjacent to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888). They also threw a red substance – what appears to be tomato soup – over the painting.
“The room was cleared of visitors and police were called. Officers are now on the scene. There is some minor damage to the frame but the painting is unharmed.
They added that the protesters had been arrested.
Statement from the National Gallery pic.twitter.com/DuZhTbAvbH
— National Gallery (@NationalGallery) October 14, 2022
According to Reuters, a later tweet said, “Specialist officers have now un-glued them and they have been taken into custody at a central London police station.”
The Metropolitan Police charged the protesters with aggravated trespass and criminal damage.
Reuters reported that the environmentalist group estimates the value of the painting at over $84 million.
BBC News confirmed with the National Gallery that, fortunately, the painting is covered by glass, therefore the canvas was not damaged.
So, it looks like the group went to an awful lot of trouble for nothing.
In the video below, the pair are captured on camera. As soup drips off the painting, they are seen feverishly slathering their hands with glue to attach themselves to the wall. Gasps from bystanders can be heard in the background. One man is heard calling for security.
— Damien Gayle (@damiengayle) October 14, 2022
CBS reported that Just Stop Oil members staged a similar stunt in June. Two protesters glued themselves to another van Gogh work, “Peach Trees Blossom,” which depicts the French region of Provence, to call attention to climate change. The painting is located at London’s Courtauld Gallery.
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