20-year-old who punched Picasso painting at Tate Modern as ‘performance’ goes to jail for 18 months


A 20-year-old man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after attacking a popular Picasso painting at Tate Modern last year.

The incident took place on December 28, when Shakeel Massey, a Spanish architecture student, hallmarked 1944 Picasso painting woman bust several times. He was holding metal padlocks and wrapped his hand in a scarf to shatter the protective glass, tearing the canvas before tearing it from the wall. Visitors to the museum were shocked by the security guards who arrested him.

Massey told guards at the time that the act was a “performance.” According to Standard Evening, he had with him at the time a handwritten note explaining the prison time he expected for the episode and the details of his personal finances. The note also referred to the last high-profile vandalism to take place at the Tate, which occurred in 2012 when Polish artist Vladimir Umanets made an “artistic statement” by degrading a painting by Mark Rothko.

“He did what he did foolishly for five minutes of fame,” the lawyer representing Massey told London’s Inner City Crown court. “He was an immature artist who made a point of knowing what. It is truly unjustifiable.

“It is difficult to conclude that anything other than this offense was committed for the sake of notoriety,” agreed the judge upon Massey’s conviction. “Nothing suggests that you were more than a 20-year-old striving for fame.”

Picasso’s painting, a portrait of his former muse Dora Maar, is worth around $ 26 million, according to the museum’s estimates. It is owned by a private collector but has been on loan to the Tate since 2011, according to the BBC.

In court, experts said repair efforts would take up to 18 months and cost more than $ 450,000.

Massey pleaded guilty to one charge of criminal damages. During his conviction, the judge explained the need to set a precedent for such an action.

“I have concluded without hesitation that the impact on the public and the seriousness of this offense, as well as the need to deter others from this form of conduct necessitates the imposition of an immediate custodial sentence,” said the judge.

“We thank the tribunal for its careful consideration of this case and have noted the outcome,” a representative from Tate Modern told Artnet News. “The work undergoes a conservation period.

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