A South Korean couple accidentally vandalized a $500,000 piece of American art by splattering paint all over it.
“They thought they were allowed to do that as participatory art and made a mistake,” Kang Wook, head of the exhibition at Seoul’s Lotte World Mall, where the accidental vandalism took place, told Reuters.
The damaged untitled work was painted by New York City-born artist John Andrew Perello (pictured), who is based out of Paris and painted the work before a live audience in Seoul in 2016. The artwork is valued at a whopping half-a-million dollars.
Paint cans and brushes used in the artwork’s creation were placed in front of the finished product, which may have given the couple the wrong impression.
After authorities reviewed surveillance footage of the couple splattering paint all over the artwork, they arrested the couple. Authorities later released the couple as the gallery decided not to file charges because it appeared to be an honest mistake.
“We are currently in discussions with the artist about whether to restore it,” said Wook of the damaged display.
Meanwhile, the gallery placed a wire fence and additional signs saying, “Do Not Touch.” The upside, according to Wook, is that the artwork had received an increase in inquiries after the incident.
This is not the first time bystanders have treated a piece of art as a communal mural. In February 2020, Banksy’s Valentine’s Day graffiti painting was ruined by vandals within 48 hours of the artwork’s completion.