Original Picasso vandalized in Houston museum


by Rehka Muddharaj & KHOU.com staff


Posted on June 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 18 at 6:51 PM

HOUSTON —Someone has defaced an original Picasso at Houston’s Menil Collection museum.

The whole thing was videotaped by a "witness" and posted on YouTube.

The video shows the suspect calmly approaching the priceless artwork and using spray paint to stencil a bull and the word "Conquista," which means conquer in Spanish.

The YouTube poster describes the video as a tribute "In Dedication to the art beast Pablo Picasso."

The video was posted last week, but it’s not clear when it was shot.

Menil spokesperson Vance Muse said they have 24 guards and security cameras.

He said the 1932 painting called "Woman in a Red Armchair" was taken to an on-site conservation lab for repairs.

"I’m very disappointed, very sad, very disappointed," said Mercedeh Shabal-Colby who owns St. Marks Fine Arts Conservation. "It’s a beautiful piece. It’s history. It’s a treasure, a treasure."

She believes the Picasso can be salvaged.

"When the pigment is stabilized for longer than two years, than you are dealing with something that is cemented in its environment," Shabal-Colby said. "And if it’s been kept well, in a climate controlled environment, then you have a better chance of approaching it and take care of it."

No charges have been filed yet, but Houston police are investigating.

The painting has been part of The Menil Collection since 1956.

The Menil in Montrose features the extensive collection of the late John and Dominique De Menil. She had the museum built to share their art from all over the world with the public.

The museum and the nearby Rothko Chapel offer free admission to visitors.