Woman tried to urinate on painting worth $30 million, police say


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Admit it, you’ve probably walked through an art museum at some point and sneered, ‘Any 3-year-old could have done that.’

But Denver police say Carmen Lucette Tisch took her apparent disdain for celebrated artist Clyfford Still’s multimillion-dollar artwork one step beyond the snarky. Tisch is accused of trying to damage the abstract painting, above, by punching it and scratching it during a Dec. 29 visit to the new Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.


Witnesses said she also pulled down her pants and tried to urinate on the painting, although that isn’t one of the charges she faces.

‘It doesn’t appear she urinated on the painting or that the urine damaged it, so she’s not being charged with that,’ said Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for the Denver district attorney’s office, in an interview with the Denver Post.

Did we mention that the painting is estimated to be worth $30 million to $40 million?

Still, who died in 1980, was an American artist credited with creating the world’s first Abstract Impressionist painting. Notoriously cantankerous and solitary, as well as particular about how his work was displayed, Still opted to paint with knives and trowels rather than a brush. Four of his paintings fetched a total of more than $114 million at Sotheby’s not long ago, and the proceeds from that sale helped fund an endowment for the museum, which opened to the public in November.

Damage to the painting, titled ‘1957-J-No. 2,’ is estimated at $10,000. The canvas was not pierced, and the Denver Post points out that it’s unclear whether the incident will harm the market value of the painting or enhance it.

The painting is nearly 9 1/2 feet tall and 13 feet wide. The incident took place in the middle of the afternoon, according to prosecutors. Although it isn’t clear what sparked the attack, authorities told the Denver Post that Tisch appeared to be under the influence of alcohol at the time.

‘You have to wonder where her friends were,’ Kimbrough said.

Tisch is being held on $20,000 bail, and is scheduled to make a Denver County court appearance Friday morning.


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--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch