Vandal stencils over Picasso work in Houston museum - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Vandal stencils over Picasso work in Houston museum

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

For a full quarter century, the extraordinary art within Houston's Menil collection has been protected from harm - until now.

The museum is confirming an act of vandalism against a painting produced in 1929 by the Spanish master Pablo Picasso.

In a video posted on YouTube, a man can be seen approaching the portrait known as "Woman in Red Arm Chair" and blasting the canvas with spray paint.  The stenciled message "Conquista" and the image of a bull defacing the original.

The vandal escaped as did the photographer who may or may not be a conspirator.

According to Menil spokesman Vance Muse, the Picasso was rushed to the collection's chief conservator Brad Etley who performed immediate damage repair.

Speaking from Berlin, Germany Vance told FOX 26, "The most important thing is to get the painting to full health, which is happening.  All the spray paint has been removed. It is in the right hospital.  The painting now needs to rest."

Meantime, Houston Police confirm the case is under very active investigation as "criminal mischief," a crime carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.  No arrests have been made in connection with the incident.

In addition to the YouTube video, detectives also have the Menil's own surveillance tape to help capture those responsible.

A representative for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston says "appropriate" security measures have been taken at that institution.

"Woman in Red Arm Chair" has been a part of the Menil collection since 1956.

On the web: http://www.menil.org/

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