Oil protesters face trial after throwing soup at Van Gogh painting

‘Just Stop Oil’ activists stick their hands to a wall after pouring soup over Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ painting at the National Gallery in London, UK, October 14, 2022.

Just stop the oil | Reuters

Climate activists dousing soup on Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting Sunflowers on Saturday brought before a London court on charges of criminal damages, several media outlets reported.

Two women protested as part of the Just Stop Oil campaign, and they pleaded not guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court during two short hearings.

After pouring two cans of tomato soup on a Van Gogh painting on Friday, protesters also glued themselves to the gallery wall. According to the London Metropolitan Police, they were taken away by specialists and taken into custody.

A spokesman for the National Gallery confirmed that the painting, which is one of Van Gogh’s iconic versions of “Sunflowers” in the late 1880s, had no damage. Its estimated cost is $80.99 million.

“There is minor damage to the frame, but the painting was not damaged,” a spokesman told CNBC. The painting was covered with glass, cleaned and returned to the National Gallery on Friday afternoon.

Just Stop Oil has been protesting in London for the past two weeks and the group said in a press release that its actions were “in response to government inaction on both the cost of living and climate crisis”.

What is more precious, art or life? What is more important than food? More valuable than justice? What are you more concerned about: protecting the painting or protecting our planet and people?” — said one of the activists in the video recording of the event.

Just Stop Oil was widely criticized by environmental groups and politicians from the opposition Labor Party after the protest.

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