A South Korean exhibition company is trying to persuade an acclaimed American graffiti artist not to restore a 440,000 US dollar (£320,000) painting after it was accidentally vandalised by a couple who mistook it for participatory art.
The artist, John Andrew Perello, also known as JonOne, has expressed a desire for his painting to be restored in a way that will not financially burden the couple, who do not face criminal charges, said Jiyoon Son, a manager from Seoul-based Content Creators of Culture.
While the exhibition was insured for damages, there is no way the insurance company would not allocate at least some of the costs to the couple as long as JonOne wants his piece restored, Ms Son said.
“We are trying to persuade the artist to consider not restoring his work. We have showed him the reactions from social media, which are favourable to his work but also sympathetic to the couple,” she said.
Ms Son said it would take several weeks and about 10 million won (£6,500) to restore the painting, which remains on display at a shopping centre in Seoul.
The couple told Ms Son’s company they thought spectators were meant to participate in JonOne’s artwork, Untitled, a huge wall painting that was set up with paint cans and brushes scattered around it.
The piece was not framed due to its large size.
Security camera footage shows the couple adding brush strokes to JonOne’s piece last Sunday.
The exhibition’s organisers alerted police when they found the new brush strokes on the painting, but withdrew their report after identifying the couple, saying they preferred handling the matter internally, according to Seoul’s Songpa police station.
“For us, the incident was baffling because we clearly stated in the caption that the paint cans and brushes were part of the artwork and also drew clear lines to separate the piece from spectators,” Ms Son said.
She said the defaced painting, which was part of an exhibition, is likely to be displayed as scheduled until June 13.
The painting’s size makes it difficult to move, which is likely to mean any restoration work would have to be conducted on site, Ms Son said.