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Woman Damages Painting Worth Over $30 Million at Clyfford Still Museum

The damaged painting.

Image of the damaged painting from the Denver Post - entitled "1957-J-No.2"

On December 29th, 2011, an intoxicated 36-year-old Denver woman allegedly attacked and damaged a painting worth between $30-40 million at the newly-opened Clyfford Still Museum. According to the Denver Post, at 3:30pm, Carmen Lucette Tisch leaned against the painting, repeatedly struck the canvas with her fist, slid down the face of the painting, and then urinated on herself.

Tisch left visible scratches and other damage to the painting, which measures 9 1/2 feet tall by 13 feet wide. The amount of damage is estimated at about $10,000 – although Denver gallery owners are optimistic that the painting can probably be restored.

Tisch was arrested at the museum, and is currently in police custody. She is being charged with criminal michief. Though her bond was originally set at $20,000, a county court judge has reduced it to $5,000 after a defense attorney presented evidence that Tisch was not a risk to the community.

Tisch’s mother testified at her first hearing on January 6th, noting that her daughter has struggled with alcohol addiction in the past. (Including a prior conviction for driving under the influence in 2008.) Tisch has been ordered to submit to alcohol monitoring if she posts bond.

Despite the attack, the Clyfford Still museum has released a statement claiming that they “[maintain] the highest standard of security,” noting that security officers acted “swiftly and appropriately.” The museum has declined to comment on the damage done to the painting or the ongoing criminal investigation, instead directing questions to the Denver Police Department.

The statement from the museum closed with:

“This extremely rare and random act of criminal mischief is highly deplorable; however, it will not deter us from performing our mission and continuing to provide a world-class art experience to our visitors.”

Tisch’s next court appearance is set for a preliminary hearing on January 23.