Luke Sundberg and three of his associates have been in line contained in the Louvre in Paris on Sunday, ready to pose for a photograph in entrance of the Mona Lisa, after they heard gasps.
A person dressed as a girl had sprung from a wheelchair and ducked beneath a rope barrier separating the portray from the gang of about 100 folks.
The guests watched in disbelief as he started pounding on the glass that shields the portray. Then, Mr. Sundberg stated, the person smeared what gave the impression to be cake all around the glass defending what is likely one of the world’s most recognizable items of artwork.
“I used to be in awe,” stated Mr. Sundberg, 20, a first-year pupil at Colby Neighborhood Faculty in Kansas. “It’s one thing so historic that appears untouchable.”
The protester, whom officers haven’t named, faked a incapacity to get near the Mona Lisa, in keeping with the Louvre. The portray was not broken, museum officers stated.
Mr. Sundberg stated he and his associates posed with the portray after the glass was cleaned after which they started to go away the museum. On their means out, he stated, they noticed the person, who regarded straight at Mr. Sundberg as he recorded him together with his cellphone.
“He threw a complete bunch of roses at me after which he began yelling,” he stated.
Movies on social media confirmed that the person, talking in French, yelled that there have been “individuals who have been destroying the planet” and “that’s why I did it.”
The Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo da Vinci within the sixteenth century and maybe the crown jewel of the Louvre’s assortment, is often swarmed by camera-wielding vacationers. The portray is held behind a thick glass case, an efficient protect in opposition to pastries.
After the person smeared the glass, he was tackled by safety guards, Mr. Sundberg stated.
The Louvre stated in an announcement that officers with the museum had adopted its standard procedures for folks with lowered mobility, “permitting them to admire this main work of the Louvre.”
As soon as he was close to the portray, the person threw the pastry that he had hidden, the museum stated.
Safety guards seized the person and escorted him out earlier than handing him over to the police, the museum stated. The museum filed a grievance, officers stated.
There have been a number of makes an attempt to vandalize the portray, some extra profitable than others. In 1956, a person threw a stone on the portray, shattering a glass protect and scratching Mona Lisa’s left elbow, inflicting a chip of paint to fall off.
The person initially stated he had no actual purpose to commit the act.
“I had a stone in my pocket and instantly the concept to throw it got here to my thoughts,” the police quoted him as saying. He later said he was jobless, had no cash and easily needed to be jailed throughout the chilly climate.
Steve Keller, a museum safety guide who has labored with the Nationwide Gallery of Artwork, the Smithsonian Establishment and different museums, stated such episodes occur “extra usually than we hear about.”
Vandalism “is likely one of the prime three issues we’ve got,” he stated, including, “We do take steps to stop it, but it surely’s probably not predictable.”
Mr. Keller, who has labored in museum safety since 1979, stated he used to see circumstances like this every year on the Artwork Institute of Chicago. He has discovered lipstick on work and handprints on portraits, and he as soon as stopped a person from portray a bit of artwork that he claimed was his and never completed.
Mr. Keller stated that many museums didn’t wish to place work in protecting glass as a result of it diminished the expertise for museum guests.
However the Mona Lisa is a predictable goal, Mr. Keller stated. In 1911, it was stolen by three Italian handymen and recovered 28 months later. Within the Nineteen Fifties, a customer attacked it with acid. In 2009, a girl threw a teacup at its glass.
Individuals who interact in such stunts often simply wish to get on tv, stated Stevan Layne, the founding director of the Worldwide Basis for Cultural Property Safety and a former director of safety on the Denver Artwork Museum.
He stated that such acts of vandalism carried out by demonstrators don’t have anything to do with the problems they’re making an attempt to name consideration to. “They’re probably not conducting something,” Mr. Layne stated.
Claire Fahy contributed reporting.