“Just Stop Oil” activists hang their hands on a wall after throwing soup at a Van Gogh painting “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London, Britain October 14, 2022.
Just stop the oil | Reuters
The two women were demonstrating as part of the Just Stop Oil campaign group, And they pleaded not guilty in Westminster Magistrates’ Court in two short sessions.
After two cans of tomato soup were thrown over a Van Gogh oil painting on Friday, protesters glued themselves to the gallery wall. The London Metropolitan Police said they were removed and taken into custody by specialists.
A spokesperson for the National Museum confirmed there was no damage to the painting, one of the iconic copies of “Sunflowers” painted by Van Gogh in the late 1880s. She is valued at $80.99 million.
“There was some minor damage to the frame but the painting was not damaged,” the spokesperson told CNBC. The painting was covered in glass, cleaned and returned to the National Gallery on Friday afternoon.
Just Stop Oil has been protesting in London for the past two weeks, and the group said in a press release that its actions were “in response to government inaction in both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis”.
“What is more valuable, art or life? Is it worth more than food? Is it worth more than justice? Are you more concerned with protecting a painting or protecting our planet and people?” One activist said in a video of the event.
Just Stop Oil has received widespread criticism from environmental groups and politicians from the opposition Labor Party in the wake of the protest.
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