26 Famed Artworks That Have Been Vandalized

What makes a person want to vandalize a cherished artwork? The factors often vary greatly.

Politics often play a role, as has been the case with the many recent protests led at museums by climate activists around the world. Personal interests often can become paramount as well, as they have with a variety of young provocateurs who have targeted others’ artworks, sometimes even as part of their own art practices.

In each case, however, the base motive remains the same: to raise a ruckus by disturbing the look or reputation of art people know all too well.

On Monday, two activists were arrested at London’s National Gallery after attacking The Toilet of Venus by Diego Velázquez “with what appeared to be emergency rescue hammers,” the British institution said in a post on X.

Below, a look at 26 instances of art-world vandalism, from religious iconoclasms to the climate protests that are still unfolding.