Seven Pieces of Priceless Art People Ruined in 2017

This is why we can't have nice things.

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My third worst fear—after kidney stones and nuclear war—is getting yelled at by a museum security guard. Maybe I'm a weenie, but I dread the unique embarrassment that comes from trespassing against our culture's hallowed protectors.

Thankfully, I'm not any of the following people.

Last year I compiled a list of all the priceless art people destroyed in 2016, at least partly in the hopes that we humans would better preserve our artistic legacy in 2017. Then, 2017 happened. Here’s what we lost:

A Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibition had been open for less than a week at Washington DC’s Hirshhorn when a visitor broke a glowing pumpkin sculpture in late February, reportedly while trying to get a selfie.

Museum spokesperson Allison Peck confirmed the incident, which occurred in the Kusama mirror room titled Infinity Mirrored Room—All the Eternal Love I have for the Pumpkins. Peck told Hyperallergic that “a piece… sustained minor damage and the room was closed temporarily,” and confirmed to the New York Times that a guest “took an accidental misstep” from a small platform, damaging one of the spotted sculptures.

Though a single similar Kusama sculpture sold for nearly $800,000 in 2015, Peck told artnet that “the individual pumpkins within the Infinity Room hold no intrinsic value on their own,” explaining that the cost of replacing one pumpkin was “negligible.” A replacement pumpkin was sent for, and the room of gourds was back up and running the next day.

Thomas Gainsborough’s The Morning Walk

In March, a wing of London’s National Gallery was evacuated after a man attacked a famous Thomas Gainsborough painting with a drill bit. Sixty-three-year-old Keith Gregory reportedly vandalized the English painter’s work, The Morning Walk, after he said voices in his head told him to “put a mark on the painting and your family will find you.”

The 1785 painting, valued in the tens of millions, suffered around $13,500 of damage from two scratches, and was restored and reinstalled in ten days. Gregory, who was formerly homeless and had been treated for paranoid delusions and auditory hallucinations, was charged with causing criminal damage, but was cleared of the charges by reason of insanity in December.

Christopher Wool’s Untitled 2004

In early May, an unknown man wearing sunglasses and a hat entered Aspen’s Opera Gallery and slashed a painting by American artist Christopher Wool.

The painting, Untitled 2004, is valued at just under $3 million. The man, whose motive and identity are still unknown, cut two holes into the canvas with a sharp object, destroying the work according to gallery owner Gregory Lahmi. A representative of the painting's owners later stated through an attorney that the damage was “minimal,” though the lawyer did not say how much it cost to repair.

The disguised art attacker has yet to be caught, with an Aspen police representative saying in November that local cops were in the midst of an international investigation “dealing with sending search warrants from little ol' Aspen to Interpol."

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