Man charged in Picasso vandalism

Uriel Landeros accused of spray-painting piece at Menil

HOUSTON - A man has been charged in connection with a Picasso masterpiece that was defaced.

Uriel Landeros, 22, has been charged with criminal mischief and graffiti, both third-degree felonies.

The vandalism was captured on cellphone video. 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 "conquer" on the painting before taking off.

The man who took the video did not want to be identified.  He said he confronted Landeros after he witnessed him spray-paint it and asked him why he did it. 

"I dedicate this to all the people out there who have suffered from an injustice of every kind," said Landeros, according to the witness who took the video. "To those who were abused by their loved ones. For those abused by their government. For those who were abused by their organized religion. And to Picasso from artist to artist. The beast is meant to be conquered. Picasso loved bullfighting because he knew in the end of the dance someone had to die and on that day it was his turn."

"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."

Muse said the spray paint was removed from the painting, but there was some additional restoration needed.

Landeros has not been arrested. Crime Stoppers described him as white, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 180 pounds.

Anyone with information regarding Landeros' whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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