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When a 12-year-old kid punched through a $1.5-mn 17th century painting

August 23, On This Day

That\’s some expensive clumsiness!


It was a cringe moment, and how. Six years ago, on this day — aka Sunday of August 23, 2015 — a 12-year-old boy accidentally tripped and fell straight into a painting worth $1.5 million at an exhibition in Taiwan, ripping his arm right through it.
The artwork was a 17th-century painting titled ‘Flowers’ by Italian painter Paolo Porpora of the late-Baroque period. Its provenance is roughly 350 years old. The painting was on display at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei as part of an exhibition called The Face of Leonardo, Images of a Genius.


The boy was taking part in a guided tour with his mother when the mishap occurred. A surveillance video shows the boy, wearing shorts, a blue Puma T-shirt and holding what appears to be a soda, strolling past Porpora’s still life, then suddenly catching his foot and stumbling over a barrier — and accidentally punching his hand through the canvas. The fingers of his left hand pierced the lower right section of the 2m-tall canvas, creating a fist-sized, U-shaped tear. In the clip, he gets up, sheepishly looks up at the damage and then turns around to see the presumably horrified reactions of passersby. Looking panicked and guilty, he is then escorted away by museum staff.


Luckily for the kid, ‘you break it, you buy it’ was not at play here, as the painting belonging to a private collection was insured, and organisers decided to ask the insurance company to cover restoration costs and compensate the owner of the painting.
The damage could have been worse — close at hand was the prize piece of the exhibition, a self portrait by Leonardo da Vinci valued at $300 million!