CCTV shows couple defacing $500,000 artwork at Seoul gallery as they ‘thought it was participatory’

A couple defaced artwork worth $500,000 after assuming brushes left behind by the artist were for spectators’ use. 

The untitled artwork was painted by American graffiti artist JonOne in 2016 in front of an audience at Seoul’s Lotte World Mall in South Korea.

The brushes, paint and paint buckets had been left scattered as props in front of the artwork to provide context for the piece. 

The brushes and paint were left as props in front of the artwork to highlight the history of the artists piece but the couple thought they were to be used by visitors as participation art

The brushes and paint were left as props in front of the artwork to highlight the history of the artists piece but the couple thought they were to be used by visitors as participation art

The brushes and paint were left as props in front of the artwork to highlight the history of the artists piece but the couple thought they were to be used by visitors as participation art 

But visitors ‘mistakenly’ thought they were allowed to use the items for participatory art, and daubed paint across the canvas. 

The art was 22.9ft by 7.8ft, and was the only piece in the exhibition without a frame, due to its size. 

CCTV cameras captured a young man and woman picking up some of the paint and putting it onto the artwork. 

The original painting
The painting after it was unknowingly defaced by the couple
Slide me

The couple unknowingly defaced the artwork by daubing black paint onto the canvas

The couple were later arrested at the mall by police. 

The pair were later released, and charges are unlikely to be brought because it appeared to have been an ‘honest mistake’ according to Head of Exhibition, Kang Wook. 

‘They thought they were allowed to do that as participatory art and made a mistake,’ he said. 

The couple were captured on CCTV putting some paint onto the artwork worth $500,000

The couple were captured on CCTV putting some paint onto the artwork worth $500,000

The couple were captured on CCTV putting some paint onto the artwork worth $500,000

The brushes, paint and paint buckets had been left scattered as props in front of the artwork to provide context for the piece which was painted in front of an audience in Seoul in 2016

The brushes, paint and paint buckets had been left scattered as props in front of the artwork to provide context for the piece which was painted in front of an audience in Seoul in 2016

The brushes, paint and paint buckets had been left scattered as props in front of the artwork to provide context for the piece which was painted in front of an audience in Seoul in 2016

‘We are currently in discussions with the artist about whether to restore it.’

He added that the incident has only increased the fame of the painting, with several visitors taking photographs of the art and questioning staff about the show.  

Wire fencing and additional signs asking visitors not to touch the art have now been put in place. 

More Stories
Testing times for British holidaymakers, plan drawn up for all UK nationals flying back from abroad