Couple Mistakenly Defaces $400,000 Artwork in South Korea Gallery

An artwork worth more than $400,000 on display in South Korea was accidentally defaced last week by a couple who thought spectators were meant to participate in the art.

The painting, "Untitled" by American artist John Andrew Perello (known by JonOne), was hanging at the Lotte World Mall in Seoul as part of the "Street Noise" exhibition that opened there in February.

The piece was set up with paint cans and brushes scattered around it, which reportedly led to the couple — who have not been identified — to assume that it was a participatory work.

That was not the case, and now the couple may be liable to help with some of the restoration costs, the New York Times reported.

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The Times reported that staff at the exhibition noticed the piece had been vandalized on March 28 when they identified three brush strokes on the painting that had not been there before. The couple were seen on security footage adding their mark to the painting.

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The pair told police that they thought they were meant to add their own mark to the painting, which was the only piece in the exhibit not to have a frame due to its large size, ABC News reported.

"Given the circumstances, the young couple does not seem to have done it intentionally," JonOne told ABC News. "I hope the piece gets restored to meet the Korean audience like before."

According to the Times, the restoration will likely cost around $9,000.

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Kang Wook, the CEO of Contents Creator of Culture, which is the co-organizer of "Street Noise," told ABC News that they are in talks with the insurance company and are doing their "best to minimize the harm to the couple who unintentionally vandalized the work."

While the defacing of "Untitled" was a misunderstanding, the Times pointed out that it has started a broader conversation about the nature of contemporary art.

JonOne told the outlet, "Art should be religious. You don't paint on a church."

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