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Environmental activists pelted a $110 million Monet painting with mashed potatoes days after a Van Gogh painting was attacked by protesters

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/24/2022 (Huileng Tan)
Claude Monet's "Les Meules" ("Haystacks") painting on display. Adam Berry/Getty Images © Adam Berry/Getty Images Claude Monet's "Les Meules" ("Haystacks") painting on display. Adam Berry/Getty Images
  • Climate protesters threw mashed potatoes at a $110 million Claude Monet painting in a German museum.
  • The "Last Generation" environmental group was protesting the climate catastrophe.
  • The "Haystacks" painting was acquired by German billionaire Plattner for $110.7 million in 2019.

Two environmental activists threw mashed potatoes at a $110 million Claude Monet painting in a German museum on Sunday, days after a similar incident involving a Van Gogh artwork in London.

The activists were calling attention to the climate catastrophe, according to a video posted by the environmental group Letzte Generation, or Last Generation.

The video showed the two activists kneeling on the floor after they pelted the painting "Les Meules," or "Haystacks," with mashed potatoes at the Museum Barberini, which is located in the city of Potsdam. They then appear to glue their hands to the artwork.

"We are in a climate catastrophe. And all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting," said one of the protesters in northeast Germany, according to a English-subtitled video tweeted by Last Generation. "Does it take mashed potatoes on a painting to make you listen? This painting is not going to be worth anything if we have to fight over food."

Museum Barberini said that an immediate assessment showed that the artwork was "not damaged in any way" since it had a protective glaze. The painting will be on display again from Wednesday, it added in a tweet. 

Dating from 1890, Monet's "Les Meules" was acquired by German billionaire Hasso Plattner for $110.7 million at a 2019 auction, according to ARTnews. The painting is on permanent loan from his foundation, the museum said.

A police spokesperson told German news agency dpa that two of the protesters had been arrested and were under investigation for potential trespassing and property damage.

The incident followed an anti-oil protest earlier this month by an activist group, who threw tomato soup over Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" painting at the National Gallery in London. The two activists involved in the attack also glued themselves next to the exhibit, which was also encased in glass and remained undamaged.


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