Houston's defaced Picasso masterpiece restored

Video of vandalism goes viral


HOUSTON – A masterpiece created by Picasso and defaced by local artist has been restored.  The vandal was captured on a cellphone video spray-painting the Picasso painting in a Houston museum.

The video hit the Internet on Wednesday.  It shows a man walking up to the original 1929 Pablo Picasso masterpiece inside the Menil Collection in Montrose.  He is then seen using a stencil to spray-paint the word "conquista," which is Spanish for "couquer" on the painting before taking off.

The man who took the video did not want to be identified.  He said he confronted the man after he witnessed him spray-paint it and asked him why he did it.  According to the witnesses, the vandal said he was an up-and-coming artist and he did it to honor Picasso's work. 

"I just thought it was pretty cool how he just went up to the painting without fear, spray painted it and just walked off," the witness told Local 2.

Other museums patrons like Bryant Bell weren't too amused at the vandal's addition to the priceless artwork. 

"I just think that if you desecrate art, then you should be prosecuted," a patron said.

"He defaced a work of art," said Vance Muse, the Menil Collection's communication director. "We certainly live in a time where, you know, art is appropriated. You know that sort of thing, but there are clearly limits to that. But you know, this is an act of vandalism."

The painting has since been removed from the wall and it was immediately restored. The museum said it hopes to have the painting back on the wall later this week.

"How sad that someone would enter and do something like that to a work of art that should be enjoyed by everybody," Muse said.

So far, no criminal charges have been filed in the case. 

Muse said there are surveillance cameras throughout the museum. He said he does not expect there to be any security changes.