WORLD NEWS

Fossil fuel protesters charged after tomato soup thrown on Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in London gallery

Oct 17, 2022, 9:21 AM
In this image released by the Just Stop Oil organization, two women are seen standing in front of V...
In this image released by the Just Stop Oil organization, two women are seen standing in front of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" (1888). (from Just Stop Oil)
(from Just Stop Oil)

ATLANTA — Two anti-fossil fuel protesters who were filmed throwing tomato soup on Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in a London gallery Friday have been charged with criminal damage offenses.

The two young women from the campaign group Just Stop Oil threw the contents of two tins of Heinz tomato soup over the painting, which, the group said, has an estimated value of $84.2 million.

They then glued themselves to the wall beneath the painting at the National Gallery. In a statement posted on Twitter Friday, the gallery confirmed the incident in Room 43, where “Sunflowers” was displayed, and gave an update on its condition.

“There is some minor damage to the frame but the painting is unharmed,” it said. In a subsequent tweet, the gallery explained that the painting was glazed and therefore protected.

A third associate was also charged over a separate attack on the iconic “New Scotland Yard” sign that stands outside London’s main police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police said.

The three people are all associated with Just Stop Oil, which represents a coalition of groups working together to stop the UK government from committing to new licenses concerning the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels.

A total of 28 arrests were made in relation to protests in central London on Friday. The 25 other people have been bailed pending further inquiries, according to the statement.

Friday’s incident is the latest in a series of protests targeting famous works of art in a bid to draw attention to the role of fossil fuels in climate change. In July, members of Just Stop Oil glued themselves to a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” at the Royal Academy of Art in London.

The same month, activists from the group glued themselves to a masterpiece held in the National Gallery, while members of an Italian climate activist organization glued themselves to Botticelli’s “Primavera” in Florence.

On Sunday, climate activists from Extinction Rebellion were arrested for gluing themselves to Picasso’s “Massacre in Korea” at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

According to a statement, Just Stop Oil timed Friday’s act “to coincide with the planned launch of a new round of oil and gas licensing” in the UK.

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Fossil fuel protesters charged after tomato soup thrown on Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in London gallery