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An art enthusiast accidentally ripped a Picasso masterpiece valued at $130 million (£80 million) during a class at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
The woman made a 6in (15cm) tear in the lower right-hand corner of Picasso’s The Actor, an unusually large 6ft (1.8m) x 4ft canvas of an acrobat striking a pose. “A visitor attending a class lost her balance,” the museum said in a terse statement.
The Actor, painted in the winter of 1904-05, marks Picasso’s shift from his Blue Period, of images of tattered beggars and blind musicians, to his Rose Period of paintings of costumed acrobats. The painting was donated to the museum in 1952 by the car company heiress Thelma Chrysler Foy and has been prominently displayed ever since.
Immediately after the accident on Friday, the painting was taken to the Metropolitan’s conservation studio for repair. “Fortunately, the damage did not occur in a focal point of the composition, and the curatorial and conservation staffs fully expect that the repair, which will take place in the coming weeks, will be unobtrusive,” the museum said.
The picture should be ready for display in the museum’s exhibition of 250 Picasso works from its permanent collection, due to open on April 27.
The Actor is not the first Picasso to suffer damage as the result of carelessness in recent years. In 2006, Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas casino mogul, tore Picasso’s Le Rêve with his elbow while showing it off to friends in his office, including the Hollywood scriptwriter Nora Ephron and her husband, Nick Pileggi.
The 1932 picture of Picasso’s mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter was about to be sold for a record $139 million. Because of the tear, the sale fell through and the painting’s estimated value fell to $85 million — a drop of $54 million.
Three Qing dynasty vases, right, worth about £500,000 were smashed when a visitor tripped on a shoelace at the Fitzwilliam Museum, in Cambridge, in 2006
In 2006 a visitor to the Royal Academy tripped and smashed a 9ft (3m) ceramic totem statue by the Costa Rican artist, Tatiana Echeverri Fernández. People continued to take photos before it was swept up
In 2004 a police officer ripped a hole in a painting by G. Morley while closing a window at St James’s Palace. He fell and accidentally grabbed the canvas