Have you ever hated a painting so much you felt an urge to just take a knife to its surface and cut it, straight to its death on the art market? That sentiment, it appears, was insuppressible for one man, who seems to hold Christopher Wool in immense disdain and, earlier this week, destroyed one of his works worth nearly $3 million.
Police in Aspen, Colorado, are currently on the hunt for a vandal who entered Opera Gallery and slashed one of the artist’s abstract, silkscreen ink paintings, titled “Untitled” (2004). Footage provided by the police department shows the suspect — who donned a cap and sunglasses, and had a beard — propping the gallery door open with an object, entering the space, heading straight for the Wool, and slashing it twice. He then runs out before a gallery assistant emerges from an adjacent room, visibly befuddled by the surprise assault.
As the Aspen Times reported, police, too, are scratching their heads over why the vandal targeted the Wool and left other expensive works hanging nearby — including paintings by Picasso and Chagall — untouched.
“On it’s face, it’s extremely suspicious,” Aspen Police Detective Jeff Fain told the Aspen Times. “There has to be a reason someone would want to destroy this painting.”
Wool’s work does not typically lead to controversy; in fact, one could say that the presence of his paintings and prints in exhibitions has generally been as humdrum as the works themselves. These recent lacerations not only have a definite, albeit woolly, intention behind them, but were also planned far in advance: gallery owner Gregory Lahmi told Hyperallergic that he received a handful of calls a few weeks ago from a private number, with someone asking if he had Wool paintings on display.
“I think the painting could be restored,” Lahmi said. “But for this kind of work and artist you would never recover the value, unfortunately, plus the damages would always be visible someway or another.
“Now it is business as usual of course,” he added. “I hope this story will be solved rapidly.” Local police have also studied video from neighboring businesses but have no additional leads, the Aspen Times reported.