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18 Nov, 2022 18:57

Protesters attack Warhol artwork

Eco-activists in Italy forced the closure of a gallery after they targeted the $59 million exhibit
Protesters attack Warhol artwork

Climate change campaigners from the activist group Ultima Generazione ('Last Generation') dumped flour on a BMW M1 sports car - painted by pop-art legend Andy Warhol - in Milan, on Friday.

Other members of the collective exploded balloons filled with paint and glued themselves to the vehicle and the floor, according to local media.

Video of the demonstration at the Fabbrica del Vapor art center shows at least three protesters whipping out sacks of flour and dousing the BMW, while one struggles to unfurl a banner on the floor. Security guards grab two women but wait patiently while they deliver their words of warning to the audience before dragging them away.  

The gallery was forced to close after the stunt, according to Italian news outlet La Repubblica. Stefano Lacagnina, the producer of the exhibition, explained that the protesters had “paid for the ticket and had the bags of flour in their pockets,” apparently rendering the gallery defenseless.  

They completely sprinkled the machine with flour,” he lamented. “It is an important piece, which was exhibited for the first time in the exhibition and has great value.” The car took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1977, finishing sixth, before Warhol painted it, and its value is estimated to be over €57 million ($59 million), according to the Daily Mail.  

While the exhibition reportedly reopened later in the day after the protesters were detained, it was not yet clear whether any damage had been done to the car. “We are waiting for the BMW technicians who arrive from Germany,” Lacagnina told La Repubblica.   

The stunt was only the latest of many attacks by environmental groups on high-profile artworks. Ultima Generazione members threw pea soup at a Van Gogh painting in Rome earlier this month, and affiliate Letzte Generation dumped a black oily substance on a Klimt painting in Vienna earlier this week, possibly causing permanent damage, supposedly because the exhibit at the Leopold Museum was sponsored by an oil and gas company. Affiliates in the UK and Netherlands have also taken their frustration about climate change inaction out on iconic works. 

The protesters have defended their controversial performances as “a desperate and scientifically-grounded cry that cannot be understood as mere vandalism.” The group released a statement promising that “non-violent direct actions will continue until citizens get answers from their government on the demands to stop gas and coal and to invest in at least 20 GW of renewables.

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