Three Times Visitors Broke Valuable Artworks on Accident

Three Times Visitors Broke Valuable Artworks on Accident

It is impossible to count all the artworks that were damaged, lost, or destroyed throughout history. We have all heard of cultural artifacts being vandalized and stolen during wars. However, not all artworks have met their unfortunate fate under tragic circumstances. Sometimes, all it takes is an accident. While it is always sad to see valuable artworks go both for the artist and the audience, you have to admit that some of these cases are so ridiculous they make you laugh, not cry. Here are three stories about pieces that were broken and only some of which were successfully restored.

Three Times Visitors Broke Valuable Artworks on Accident

The Actor by Pablo Picasso

In 2010, a visitor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art tripped and fell into Picasso’s painting titled The Actor during an exhibition. This accident resulted in a 15-centimeter hole appearing in the canvas of one of the most valuable artworks by the 20th-century master. Fortunately, the painting has undergone restoration and is now protected with glass.

The Pillsbury Owl (12th-13th century BCE)

An ancient bronze wine vessel in the shape of an owl, originating from Shang-dynasty China, was part of an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2022. It was placed near the entrance to the museum and, as it turns out, right in the way of a poor unsuspecting visitor. Luckily, no one was injured, but the ancient object had to be removed from the exhibition for further examination and repair. The Museum of Minneapolis Institute of Art did not disclose the extent of the damage, so the fate of this extremely valuable bird-shaped vessel remains unknown.

Balloon Dog (Blue) by Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons is one of the most expensive currently active artists, whose works are being sold for millions of dollars. However, even his work is not immune to clumsy art fair visitors. The attendants of the event were shocked to see a famous balloon dog sculpture by Jeff Koons shatter in the blink of an eye. An art collector who was a guest at the fair accidentally bumped into a pedestal the piece was propped on and dropped it. This specific artwork by Koons had an estimated worth of around $42,000. Luckily, Balloon Dog was insured, and the person who broke it was not charged. Moreover, due to the nature of Koons’ signature approach to art, there happened to be over 700 more copies of this sculpture in the world.

Stories like these make you think about how fragile all these valuable artworks around us are. While they might be backed by institutions, organizations, and security, they remain incredibly vulnerable. This is a reminder to everyone that art should be protected at all costs.