Andrew Shannon, 49, now has something that he can say puts him in a small group shared only with Steve Wynn. Both have punched holes in valuable paintings. Unlike Wynn, however, Shannon wanted to punch a hole in a Claude Monet masterpiece hanging in the National Gallery Ireland in 2012 and did so in front of witnesses. Fortunately, he also did so in front of a security camera given his later defense. Monet’s 1874 work Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat has since been repaired though some small pieces were lost due to the damage on the painting.
The painting worth nearly $10 million was severely damaged.
In the case of Steve Wynn, the casino and hotel magnate suffers from the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, which affects his peripheral vision. He was showcasing his “Le Rêve,” Picasso’s 1932 portrait of his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, on the day of a sale for $40 million to hedge-fund mogul Steven Cohen. Wynn was gesturing toward the painting when he put his elbow through it. Cohen promptly declared “no sale.”
Police say that Shannon told them after his arrest that he destroyed the art to “get back at the state.” However, he later changed his story to say that he “felt faint” and fell into the painting. Yet, the videotape shows him making a fist and then slamming it into the painting. He then started shouting at people in the gallery.
A can of paint stripper was later found in his possession.
The jury took just 90 minutes to convict Shannon who was sentenced to five years in prison, and will not be allowed in any gallery for 15 months after his release. We are often criticized for having too lengthy prison sentences but this seems a bit light since the police also found nearly 50 stolen items, including valuable artworks, books and antiques in his home. That would seem to warrant more time than five years. What do you think?