A man allegedly vandalized a student painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 19, writing “Nazi Art” across the work on view at the institution’s education center.
Ryan Watson, 33, scribbled on the painting at around 5pm, and although his motive for the vandalism is unclear, he shouted “Go back to your country!” at a security guard who confronted him, according to the New York Daily News.
The artwork was created by a New York City teenager, and is one of 600 works currently included in the “Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: New York City Regional Exhibition,” on view March 24–May 29, 2017. Each participating artist won the highest honor, the Gold Key Award, in the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, organized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.
The vandalism follows the March attack on a Met security guard carried out by Brandon Aebersold, age 33. The assailant smashed a bottle over the employee’s head when the guard suggested he tell the information desk about a crooked painting, rather than personally adjusting it.
Following the latest incident, Watson was detained by museum guards, and then arrested by police. He has allegedly been charged with graffiti and criminal mischief, and was awaiting arraignment at Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday evening.
“The Met is reaching out to the student and will make every effort to restore the work of art,” Met spokesperson Annie Bailis said in a statement. “The Met is grateful for the quick and effective action taken by security officers and the NYPD on this unfortunate incident.”
The targeted artwork was selected by 300 literary and visual arts professionals from nearly 11,000 written or artistic works submitted by almost 4,000 middle and high school students.
Though the young artist victimized by Watson’s crime may be an unknown today, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Kay WalkingStick, and John Baldessari were all Scholastic Art & Writing Award winners. The awards were established in 1923.
The name of the affected work and student artist has not been released.
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