HOUSTON - A man accused of vandalizing a Picasso at the Menil Collection made his first appearance before a Harris County judge on Wednesday.
Uriel Landeros turned himself in at the Hidalgo Port of Entry shortly after crossing the border from Mexico into the United States about 4 p.m. on Jan. 8 and he was extradited to Houston on Sunday. He was charged with criminal mischief and felony graffiti, both of which are third-degree felonies.
A Harris County Judge set Landeros' bond at $250,000 per charge, for a total of $500,000.
After defacing the 1929 Picasso painting on June 13, Landeros vanished and remained silent until an exclusive interview with Local 2 in November.
The artist, who had been hiding out in northern Mexico, detailed his motivation behind the crime.
Landeros said he's not apologetic for spray painting a stenciled image of a bull, a matador, and the Spanish word "CONQUISTA," which means conquest, onto Picasso's "Woman in a Red Armchair."
"(Expletive) his painting. It's just a piece of cloth. What matters most is the people who are suffering," Landeros said.
Landeros said his actions were fueled by a mixture of social and political defiance.
"I'm part of the whole Occupy movement," Landeros explained.
Landeros said he chose the 13th of June because the number refers to a power structure. He said all he wanted to do was shed light on the corruption of banks, government and large institutions in the United States and Mexico.
"If I wanted to destroy that piece, I could have done it," he claimed. "The spray paint that I used was easily taken away. I really don't give a (expletive) about the 15 minutes of fame. If anything, I made that painting more famous than what it is."
The act was caught on cellphone video by a museum patron as it happened, then posted on YouTube.
Landeros was transferred from Hidalgo County Sunday and could face a judge in Houston this week.
If convicted, Landeros would face two to 10 years in prison.
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