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Oops: Gallery Visitors Dab Paint on $440K Artwork

They thought it was allowed on JonOne's large canvas in South Korea
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2021 9:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – A young couple admiring a large work by American artist JonOne at a gallery in South Korea added a few brushstrokes of their own in the mistaken belief it was allowed. The best part: The work "Untitled" is valued at $440,000, reports ABC News. JonOne, real name John Andrew Perello, is generally known as a graffiti artist, or street artist, and his work is often displayed with paint and brushes nearby, the tools he uses to create it. In this case, the work is a giant canvas about 23 feet wide and 8 feet tall and thus is not framed in the "Street Noise" exhibition at the Lotte World Mall in Seoul. The couple say they thought the paint placed in front of the canvas meant that it was a piece of participatory art, so they added three blue-green brushstrokes on the piece, per Channel News Asia.

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Gallery staff noticed the additions after the fact and tracked down the couple after looking at CCTV footage. Police released them after questioning when they explained their gaffe. What happens next is not clear. The work is still being displayed, though now with better protection and clearer "do not touch" signs for visitors. JonOne is not commenting on whether he will keep the work as is, request compensation from the couple, or perhaps file an insurance claim. As the Korea Times notes, some people think the couple's additions improved the piece. "The added brushstrokes, which almost look like three dancing figures, seem to express the free spirits of today's younger generation, while complementing the painting well," wrote one commenter. JonOne is a New York City native who now lives in Paris. (Read more artist stories.)

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