On Sunday, two Australian climate protestors superglued their hands to the Picasso painting known as the Massacre in Korea, which is valued at $280 million. One of the demonstrators was 59-year-old Tony Gleeson, a retired teacher. Although there is a penalty for damaging such an expensive piece of art, Gleeson said he would “absolutely” do it again if given another opportunity.
Gleeson and his female partner, both 49 years old, caught a lucky break when they were arrested at the National Gallery of Victoria. They had glued their hands to the face of a Pablo Picasso masterwork but avoided being charged with any crime.
After the global attention given to the climate protestors who defaced the Picasso work, they were apprehended for their “dangerous and ugly” stunt that was designed to bring light to the ongoing climate crisis.
Gleeson worked as a teacher and is the grandfather of five children. He became a protestor for Extinction Rebellion Australia and risked his freedom by supergluing his hand to the front of the Picasso piece named Massacre in Korea, which was held at the National Gallery of Victoria.
When it was sold in 2015, the painting went for $179 million ($280 million in Australian dollars).
Gleeson explained to the news on Monday that he would definitely repeat his prior protest because it effectively called attention to the associated cause.
“The decision wasn’t taken lightly,” he told radio host Neil Mitchell. “It was carefully planned, and there were more than two of us involved. There was a lot of security there, so we took that into account, and we prepared long and hard for this. This is pretty serious stuff. We’re facing a climate and ecological emergency.”
Extinction Rebellion spokeswoman Catherine Strong expressed remorse for the dangerous stunt she called “inconvenient.”
“People can believe we’re idiots all they want, and maybe we are idiots. Who knows? We admit that this is the sort of thing that is inconvenient for people. We don’t like doing this sort of thing to people – we feel bad about it, and we are so sorry,” Strong said.
Gleeson and his accomplice have not been charged with anything yet, but he is anticipating being charged for putting the painting worth multiple millions of dollars in danger. He also mentioned how the specifics of the climate change scheme will come to light during the trial.
“We accept responsibility for what we did … we will do what it takes, non-violently, to get where we need to be,” Gleeson stated.
Gleeson claims that his protest was successful in terms of the reach it had; Extinction Rebellion Australia managed to capture the attention of millions worldwide.
“We’ve had media from all over the world in response, so yeah, I guess it on all accounts would have to be considered a success,” Gleeson stated. “In doing it, we’ve caused problems for a number of people. To be successful in this work, you have to disrupt people, and there were certain people disrupted yesterday where we prefer not to do it, but we figure the urgency of the situation means it’s required.”