Man accused of defacing Picasso turns self in

Uriel Landeros charged with graffiti, criminal mischief

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Uriel Landeros

HOUSTON - A man accused of vandalizing a Picasso at the Menil Collection has turned himself over to authorities.

According to the Harris County District Attorney's Office, 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 Tuesday. He has been charged with criminal mischief and felony graffiti, both of which are third-degree felonies. He's being held at the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office awaiting extradition to Harris County.

After defacing the 1929 Picasso painting on June 13, Landeros vanished and has remained silent until an exclusive interview with Local 2 in November.

The 22-year-old artist, who's been hiding out in northern Mexico, detailed his motivation behind the crime that rocked the Houston art community.

"I don't regret anything that I've done," Landeros said.

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."

The act was caught on cellphone video by a museum patron as it happened, then quickly posted on YouTube.

While many art lovers believe what Landeros did was a disgrace, he seemed unfazed and said what he did wasn't vandalism, but a call for justice.

"I really don't give a (expletive) about the 15 minutes of fame," Landeros said. "If anything, I made that painting more famous than what it is."

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