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ART OOPS. An art piece from artist John Andrew Perello, also known as JonOne, is seen after it was found with brush strokes made by a couple in Seoul, South Korea, in this March 28, 2021 file photo. A South Korean exhibition company is trying to persuade the acclaimed American graffiti artist not to restore a $440,000 painting after it was accidentally vandalized by the couple, who mistook it for participatory art. The couple told Sonís company they thought spectators were meant to participate in JonOneís artwork, "Untitled," a huge wall painting that was set up with paint cans and brushes scattered around it. The piece wasnít framed due to its large size. (Lee Jae-hee/Yonhap via AP, File)

From The Asian Reporter, V31, #5 (May 3, 2021), page 5.

South Korean couple mistakenly vandalizes $440,000 artwork

By Kim Tong-Hyung

The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea ó A South Korean exhibition company is trying to persuade an acclaimed American graffiti artist not to restore a $440,000 painting after it was accidentally vandalized by a couple who mistook it for participatory art.

The artist, John Andrew Perello, also known as JonOne, has expressed a desire for his painting to be restored in a way that wonít financially burden the couple, who donít face criminal charges, Jiyoon Son, a manager from Seoul-based Content Creators of Culture, said.

While the exhibition was insured for damages, thereís no way the insurance company wouldnít allocate at least some of the costs to the couple as long as JonOne wants his piece restored, Son said.

"We are trying to persuade the artist to consider not restoring his work. We have showed him the reactions from social media, which are favorable to his work but also sympathetic to the couple," Son said.

She said it would take several weeks and about 10 million won ($9,000) to restore the painting, which remains on display at a shopping mall in Seoul.

The couple told Sonís company they thought spectators were meant to participate in JonOneís artwork, "Untitled," a huge wall painting that was set up with paint cans and brushes scattered around it. The piece wasnít framed due to its large size.

Security camera footage shows the couple adding green brush strokes to JonOneís piece.

The exhibitionís organizers alerted police when they found the new brush strokes on the painting, but withdrew their report after identifying the couple, saying they preferred handling the matter internally, according to Seoulís Songpa Police Station.

"For us, the incident was baffling because we clearly stated in the caption that the paint cans and brushes were part of the artwork and also drew clear lines to separate the piece from spectators," Son said.

Son said the defaced painting, which was part of an exhibition, will likely be displayed as scheduled until June 13. The paintingís size makes it difficult to move, which likely means any restoration work would have to be conducted on site, Son said.

Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report.

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