Rich-on-rich crime, or revolutionary act of climate awareness activism? On the evening of March 31, an unnamed 66-year-old woman reportedly drove her 2018 Rolls-Royce Dawn through the backyard of prominent art collector and hedge fund manager Steven Tananbaum and wife Lisa Tananbaum’s beachfront property in Palm Beach, Florida. Video surveillance footage captured the incident, showing that the driver had struck a Damien Hirst sculpture installed in the Tananbaums’ yard on a low pedestal before crashing into an ornate landscape fence and finally landing bumper-first in the sand from a five-foot drop off the property’s backyard seawall.
The Tananbaums confirmed in the police statement that the Hirst sculpture, titled “Sphinx” (2017), was valued at $3 million. The police report also indicated that there were $10,000 in damages to the seawall and $50 in damages to the landscape fence and scuff marks on the driveway.
The painted bronze sculpture, included in the artist’s exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable — a falsified shipwreck discovery sculptural series that Hyperallergic called “the most expensive artistic flop in living memory” — looked like it had been lost underwater for centuries with corals, barnacles, and other elements of sea life attached to it. While images from the Palm Beach police department show that the statue had been dislodged from its pedestal, the Tananbaums claim that the vehicle caused significant damage.
The news comes just a few months after a woman shattered a Jeff Koons “Balloon Dog” sculpture at an art fair in Miami, a work valued at a significantly more modest $42,000.
According to Palm Beach Daily News, nobody was injured during the incident and the driver did not appear to be intoxicated, but she had no recollection of the events leading up to the crash. Palm Beach police officers and the fire rescue team that responded to the scene brought the woman to St. Mary’s Medical Center for a medical evaluation following the crash. Remarkably, there was only about $2,000 worth of damage to the Rolls-Royce.