Thursday, January 5, 2012
A 36-year-old woman was charged Wednesday after punching, scratching and sliding her buttocks against a painting worth more than $30 million, authorities in Colorado said.
Carmen Tisch is accused of pulling her pants down to rub up against the work, an oil-on-canvas called "1957-J no.2", by the late abstract expressionist artist Clyfford Still. Tisch allegedly caused $10,000 worth of damage to the painting.
Tisch was charged with felony criminal mischief on Wednesday and has been held on a $20,000 bond since the incident in late December, said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office.
Citing the police report, the Denver Post reported that the suspect was apparently drunk at the time. Kimbrough said Tisch urinated after she rubbed up against the canvas at the recently opened Clyfford Still museum in Denver. "It doesn't appear she urinated on the painting or that the urine damaged it, so she's not being charged with that," Kimbrough said according to the Denver Post.
"You have to wonder where her friends were," she said.
A Denver art gallery owner, Ivar Zeile, told the Post that the painting could probably be restored as long as the canvas wasn't pierced. "It does damage the piece, though, even people just knowing what happened," he added.
Influential Born in North Dakota in 1904, Still was considered one of the most influential of the American post-World War Two abstract expressionist artists, although he was not as well known as others such as Jackson Pollock.
Still died in 1980, and the city of Denver worked for years with his widow, Patricia, to secure the single-artist museum. She died in 2005, and her husband's collection was bequeathed to the city.
Four of Still's works were auctioned by Sotheby's last year for $114 million to endow the Denver museum, which opened with much fanfare in November. Because Still closely guarded his works, most of the pieces at his namesake museum had not previously been displayed.
Tisch will be formally advised of the charges on Friday, Kimbrough said.