Alleged Picasso vandal surrenders after months on run
CHICAGO (AFP) – A young man who vandalized a Pablo Picasso painting on display in a Texas gallery has turned himself in after months on the run in Mexico, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Uriel Landros, 22, took credit for spray-painting a stencil of a bullfight and the word “conquista” – a reference to Spanish colonialists – on the work in videos posted on YouTube shortly after the June 13 incident.
The first – purportedly shot by a bystander at the Menil Collection in Houston – showed a man in a dark suit stepping up to Picasso’s Cubist masterpiece Woman in a Red Arm Chair, quickly spray-painting it and then rushing away. The video notes identify Landros by name.
Landros appears shirtless and in shadow in a second video, in which he explains that he did not intend to destroy the painting, but was instead making an artistic and political statement.
“I am sorry for insulting anybody who misunderstood my message,” he said.
“I did this to turn heads, to raise awareness to the world … we as a society have become nothing but a corrupt, war making, murdering, raping society.”
The painting, reportedly worth millions, was fully restored.
A small Houston gallery mounted a controversial exhibit showing a dozen paintings by Landros in October.
Landros decided to turn himself in after much urging from his family, defense attorney Emily Detoto told AFP.
He first tried to surrender at the U.S. consulate in Monterrey on Monday but was refused. So he took a bus to the border crossing at McAllen, Texas, on Tuesday where he was met by his family and law enforcement authorities.
“He’s in a jail right now in the Rio Grande Valley,” Detoto said, adding she expects him to be transferred to Houston in the coming days to face criminal vandalism and graffiti charges.
“He will enter a plea of not guilty,” Detoto said.
A Polish man was recently jailed for two years in Britain for defacing a mural by U.S. artist Mark Rothko at London’s Tate Modern gallery.
Wlodzimierz Umaniec, 26, scrawled his name on Rothko’s Black On Maroon, which is worth between £5 million and £9 million ($8-$14.5 million).
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