Sentenced to 18 months the 20-year-old who scarred a Picasso to make a "performance"

Eighteen months in prison: that's the sentence handed down to the 20-year-old who punched and scarred a Picasso at London's Tate Modern last December to make a "performance."

The 20-year-old man who defaced a Pablo Picasso painting (the Bust of a Woman) at London’s Tate Modern last Dec. 28 has been sentenced to 18 months: the young man (Shakeel Ryan Massey, a student from Spain) had broken the glass case shielding the work with a fist wrapped in a scarf, and then began punching the painting, tearing the canvas and then peeling it off the wall. Visitors watched the scene in shock; the 20-year-old was later stopped by museum security officers.

Massey had justified himself by saying that his was a “performance.” A “performance” that was certainly very expensive, since restorers estimated that, to repair the damage to the painting (which is from 1944 and belongs to a private collector, who granted it on long-term loan to the Tate in 2011), eighteen months of restoration and about 450,000 pounds will be needed. At the time of his arrest, the student was holding a sheet of paper with some delusional notes that contained a prediction of the sentence he would receive and phrases about the act of vandalism that also occurred at the Tate in 2012 (when a Polish artist turned on a Mark Rothko work). Even the lawyer defending him said Massey “foolishly sought his five minutes of fame.”

Jeremy Donne, the judge who sentenced Massey for the crime of damaging said that “it is difficult to come to any conclusion other than that this crime was committed to achieve notoriety.” The 18-month prison sentence is thus meant to be a precedent to curb similar acts in the future. “I have concluded, without hesitation,” the judge said, “that the impact on the public and there gravity of this offense, coupled with the need to disincentivize others who wish to follow similar conduct, require an immediate custodial sentence.”

Pictured: Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman (1944; oil on canvas, 81 x 65 cm; London, Tate Modern)

Sentenced to 18 months the 20-year-old who scarred a Picasso to make a
Sentenced to 18 months the 20-year-old who scarred a Picasso to make a "performance"

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