Take a trip to Paris’s Musée Picasso right now and you’ll get to see “Picasso à l’image,” an exhibition featuring photos, documentary footage, and more visual artifacts that “show [Pablo Picasso] in motion, revealing different facets of his life and work.”
Next to one floor-to-ceiling photograph of a young Picasso in his studio is a sizable expanse of blank white wall space where one royal blue jacket hangs from a hook. Inside its pockets are postcards depicting Picasso’s works, which artist Oriol Vilanova found at flea markets and museum gift shops. It’s part of Vilanova’s series “Old Masters,” and visitors are meant to interact with it—perusing the postcards and even removing the jacket from its hook.
In fact, Vilanova was so committed to encouraging interactivity that he’d turned down an offer from the museum to secure the jacket to the wall. “This option was not chosen by the artist because the public could not have manipulated the work easily,” a museum representative told Artnet News. “He wanted people to be able to handle not just the postcards, but the jacket too.”
But when a certain 72-year-old woman explored the exhibition in March, she reportedly didn’t realize the jacket was anything other than someone’s actual jacket—and she fancied it for herself. So she took it off the hook, brought it home, and had a tailor shorten it by nearly a foot to fit her better.
According to The Times, the crime was caught on CCTV, and investigators were hunting for further clues in the museum when their culprit appeared in the flesh: She was back for another visit, mere days later. While she quickly owned up to filching the item, she maintained that she hadn’t known it was part of an art installation. Prosecutors issued a warning and decided not to pursue any case against her.
She’s definitely not the first person to accidentally ruin a piece of art, and she probably won’t be the last. As for whether the jacket is still free to remove from its hook, that remains unclear.
[h/t Artnet News]