Top 10 Priceless Artworks That Were Unintentionally Destroyed

Artworks can get lost or destroyed for several reasons. Disasters – both natural and man-made, war, repression or accidental destruction at the hands of artists themselves and in some cases aspiring artists. Whatever the reason, a lost artwork is an enormous loss to our world.

On a separate note,  we all know what not to do when restoring a great works of art, especially when an 81 year old woman failed to restore a classic painting of Jesus. She’s not the only one to screw up. It turns out that even professional painters can screw up horribly when it comes to art restoration; as this article will highlight

So without further ado, this article will now focus its attention on how priceless artworks were unintentionally destroyed with one or two wrong move.


1. Jesus Gets a Makeover

Jesus Gets a Makeover

Three separate photographs of “Ecce Homo” by painter Elias Garcia Martinez were extensively damage  by a confused elderly woman who decided the masterpiece needed a little refurbishment.

But in a time of austerity, rather than calling in a professional to complete the job, the unnamed woman attempted to restore the mural herself – at a horrific cost.

The result was a botched repair where the intricate brush strokes of Martinez were replaced with a dirty splattering of the octogenarian’s paint. Years of carefully calculated depth of expression were simply washed out by copious amounts of red and brown colors.


2. Picasso Gets The Elbow

Picasso Gets the Elbow

Le Rêve by Picasso was owned by 491st richest man in the world, Steve Wynn. In 1997 he decided to sell it and the sale was agreed at $139m. Unfortunately, whilst showing off the masterpiece to friends, Wynn accidentally put his elbow through the canvas. After a $90,000 repair job, the painting was valued at $85m.


3. Minging Qing Vases

Minging Qing Vases

Mothers always remind you when your shoelaces are undone. And with good reason, because, like Nick Flynn, you may trip at the top of museum stairs and land head first into some 300 year old Qing Dynasty vases. They weren’t even insured.


4. Poor Picasso Again

Poor Picasso Again

What is it with Picasso pieces getting ruined?! An unsteady student in New York stumbled into The Actor, tore a 6 inch gash in the canvas and slashed the price by $65 million. That’s about $10million per inch of rip.


5.Tracey Emin is Barbed

Tracey Emin is Barbed

A Tracey Emin work entitled Self Portrait: Bath had a neon light with barbed wire over it. A visitor managed to get tangled up in the wire and caused $2,000 worth of damage.


6. Freudian Slip

Freudian Slip

You’d think of all the people you could trust with valuable art, a powerhouse like Sotheby’s would be high on the list. Perhaps not when you find out that they literally threw out and crushed a Lucian Freud painting in a box worth $157,000 (the painting, not the box).


7. Lowry-Intolerant Milkman

Lowry-Intolerant Milkman

Milkman Ben Timperley was probably hoping for cash tips rather than the scribbles of an ‘artist’ he didn’t really rate. Take a moment to empathise when that milkman noticed a similar looking style print in his dentist’s and discovered the sketches he’d dismissed and chucked out were Lowrys. And worth a small fortune.


8. Builders Bash Banksy

Builders Bash Banksy

There are many imitations of Banksy on street walls worldwide. The one in Melbourne that happened to get in the way of some pipes for a cafe was the real deal. It was the third work by the artist ruined within 2 years. The Parachuting Rat had been there for a decade before builders put pipes through it.



9. Cave Clean-Up Catastrophe
Cave Clean-Up Catastrophe

In 1992 some well meaning kids and their youth group workers took it upon themselves to clear up some local graffiti in France. To be precise, in Montauban, where the famous paleolithic cave paintings are? Yes, you’ve guessed it, they cleaned up ancient cave paintings. There’s not really a lot you can say to that. Kids do try.


10. Avid Cleaner

Avid Cleaner

Clean-Up jobs and art don’t really mix very well, as a conscientious but misguided janitor in Germany discovered in 2010. She worked hard to remove a stain from a plastic bowl in an exhibit. The water stain, however, was a deliberate part of the work, titled, “When It Starts Dripping From The Ceiling” and was meant to show viewers the interesting discoloration over time. The work was worth $1m.

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