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$400,000 painting defaced by couple that thought it was street art

$400,000 painting defaced by couple that thought it was street art
© Getty Images

A couple in a South Korean shopping mall unknowingly defaced a $400,000 piece of artwork thinking that it was interactive street art.

The piece, “Untitled” by John Andrew Perello, a graffiti artist known as JonOne, was part of an exhibition at a Seoul mall, according to The New York Times.

It was displayed with some paint cans, brushes and shoes that were worn by Perello.

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The exhibition, “Street Noise,” opened in February of this year and features nearly 130 pieces by more than a dozen graffiti artists, the Times reported.

The couple allegedly added three brushstrokes of green paint to the artwork without noticing that it was already a completed work. The vandalization was discovered on March 28, and the couple was identified by mall security footage, the outlet noted.

“There were guidelines and a notice, but the couple did not pay attention,” one of the exhibition’s organizers, Kang Wook, told the Times.

The couple, who was not named, was arrested and later released after telling police that they believed the artwork was participatory, the outlet noted.

Perello expressed his disappointment that his work was tarnished, according to the Times.

“Art should be religious,” he said. “You don’t paint on a church.”

Some have argued that the couple should not be blamed and that their contribution has added to the work, the Times reported.