LONDON — British police on Monday arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of defacing a mural by US artist Mark Rothko at London’s Tate Modern gallery.
The gallery shut for a short time on Sunday after the damage was found on the corner of one of Rothko’s Seagram murals.
Sussex police arrested a man in Worthing, southern England, at around 9:00 pm Monday on suspicion of criminal damage and the suspect was in custody at a Sussex police station, said a Metropolitan Police statement.
Earlier Monday, Russian Vladimir Umanets had claimed responsibility for writing on the painting.
“I believe that from everything bad there’s always a good outcome so I’m prepared for that but obviously I don’t want to spend a few months, even a few weeks, in jail. But I do strongly believe in what I am doing, I have dedicated my life to this,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
The graffiti appeared to read: “Vladimir Umanets, A Potential Piece of Yellowism.”
“Some people think I’m crazy or a vandal, but my intention was not to destroy or decrease the value, or to go crazy,” he said. “I am not a vandal.”
Umanets is a founder of “Yellowism”, which he calls “neither art, nor anti-art” on the movement’s website.
“It’s an element of contemporary visual culture. It’s not an artistic movement,” he said.
The Seagram murals, commissioned by New York’s Four Seasons restaurant in 1958, arrived in London for display at Tate Modern’s sister gallery on February 25, 1970 — the day the artist committed suicide aged 66.
A large-scale painting by the artist fetched $86.9 million at a New York auction in May, setting a new record for any contemporary work of art.
The Russian-born expressionist painter became a giant of the modern art world through his simplified and colourful compositions inspired by mythology and primitive art.