A man has been filmed on CCTV entering an art gallery in the US and slashing a painting worth around €2.5m which belongs to his father.
Officials in Colorado have charged a British man, Nicholas Morley, with 'felony criminal mischief' after he was caught on camera cutting the untitled Christopher Wool painting twice. He denies the charge.
The 40-year-old is alleged to have travelled nearly 10,000 miles to the Opera Gallery in Aspen, Colorado, to damage the artwork belonging to his 74-year-old father, Harold.
The footage shows Nicholas wearing sunglasses and a cap on May 1, 2017, slashing the piece before making his escape.
A local district court judge issued a warrant for Morley's arrest after an 11-month investigation, and authorities are deciding on whether to pursue his extradition.
The painting, Untitled 2004, was valued for sale at $2.95m at the time and Nicholas Morley was charged in his absence yesterday with felony criminal mischief for damage worth between $1,000 and $5,000 - or the cost of repairing the painting.
Aspen prosecutor Don Nottingham said: “He is the person charged with directly damaging this painting.”
Legal documents show that his father, Harold, had told police the artwork was co-owned by his son via an investment company Fallowfield Ltd.
Later he claimed his son did not own the artwork but helped with Fallowfield Ltd contracts.
The Aspen Times reports Harold sent a letter to the gallery revealing he would not be pursuing an insurance claim as the painting could be “easily restored”.
According to the affidavit, he said: “It was only a minor incident. In the same vein the police investigation should be calmed down and they be quickly informed that Fallowfield are very relaxed about the whole affair since Wool is an appreciating asset and the repairs will be all but invisible.”
He also asked that staff at the gallery “play the whole affair down as over enthusiastic reporting”.
He continued: “We could even put it up for sale now for $3.5m on the basis it is famous.
“Since we are not making an insurance claim there is no reason why the recollection of the incident should not be eliminated as quickly as possible from staff and public.”