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Rothko painting defaced at London's Tate Modern

  • A visitor to London’s Tate Modern museum defaced a painting by Russian-American artist Mark Rothko on Sunday.

    A statement released by the gallery said: "Tate can confirm that ... there was an incident at Tate Modern in which a visitor defaced one of Rothko's Seagram murals by applying a small area of black paint with a brush to the painting.”

    Rothko is considered to be one of the 20th century's most important artists. His works fetch tens of millions of dollars at auctions.

    He was commissioned to paint the Seagram murals in 1958 for Manhattan's Four Seasons restaurant, thought they were never installed.

    Shortly before his death in 1970, he presented some of the murals to the Tate Gallery.

    Tim Wright, an eyewitness, wrote on Twitter that he saw the incident take place and posted a photograph of the damaged canvas online.

    "Very bizarre, he sat there for a while then just went for it and made a quick exit," Wright wrote. "This guy calmly walked up, took out a marker pen and tagged it. Surreal."

    Earlier this year, Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow sold for $86.9 million, a new auction record for the artist, at Christie's.