Tourists saw accused ‘put fist through Monet painting’

A tourist who witnessed a €10m Claude Monet painting being damaged said he saw the accused man “lift his fist and put it through the painting”.

Andrew Shannon, aged 48, of Willans Way, Ongar, Dublin 15, denies causing criminal damage to the painting at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, on Jun 29, 2012.

The gilt-framed oil painting, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, dates from about 1874 and is Ireland’s only work in public collection by the celebrated French impressionist.

Two tourists, who travelled from New Zealand to give evidence, told the jury at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court they were standing next to the Monet painting when the incident happened.

Michael Williams told Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, that he felt the damage had been “quite deliberate”.

“Out of the side of my eye I saw this man lift his fist and put it through the painting. To me, it was clearly what he wanted to do,” he said. “He said to me he was feeling faint. I grabbed him straight after the event and he had his excuse ready to go. I couldn’t help but feel that it was planned.”

Mr Williams said he manoeuvred the accused into the middle of the room “so he couldn’t do any more damage”.

Mr Williams’ wife, Dr Toni Ashton, told the jury that Mr Shannon “seemed to appear out of nowhere” and that she saw his fist “like a hammer”.

“He seemed to lunge at the painting with quite a lot of force in the body,” she said.

Ms Ashton said Mr Shannon seemed a little disoriented and “out of it” and that he kept looking at the ground.

She said the accused told them he had a heart condition and asked for some water.

The trial continues today.


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