You’re on a school trip to a museum, and to be honest, not taking the tour all that seriously, laughing at how stern that curator guy is when describing the magnificence of centuries-old European paintings.
At one point that curator tells your group that you are now looking at one of the most remarkable and most expensive paintings that exists in the world today, so naturally, as your group moves on, you decide to take a selfie with it.
This doesn’t end well, because as you turn to take the shot you trip, fall backwards, and stick your free hand right through that multimillion dollar piece of art. “Oops,” you say, wondering how you’ll get the $68 million to pay for it.
This kind of thing has actually happened, and here you’ll read more about the dumb and the clumsy destroying expensive things.
10. Pink Grass
It’s not always about money, some things that get destroyed are more beautiful than expensive. As this story goes, in 2016 a city in China decided it wanted to create an area of beauty. The plan was to import special pink grass seeds from Australia and then plant those seeds in one of the city’s parks.
The caretaker responsible for cultivating the area said it took her 3 years to get the place looking how it should, and that meant caring for the pink grass paradise each and every day.
Then came the problems, notably hordes of Chinese tourists that wanted to have themselves photographed in that pink paradise.
The caretaker was screaming and shouting so much to make them stop her voice finally went, and then she just had to give up. The hordes couldn’t be stopped. That photo in the pink grass was just so important to them.
This is what that caretaker later told the media:
“I’ve been caring for the growth of this grass, but I never imagined they’d get demolished in just two to three days. To me, they are like my son and daughter. It’s like witnessing my sons being beaten by barbarians, but I can do nothing to help.”
The moral to this story is never, ever, underestimate what narcissistic selfie-takers will do to get a “like” on a social media platform. The caretaker said she still had some seeds and will start the project again.
We can’t put a cost on this damage, but we can say in two days the tourist hordes destroyed three years of work.
9. The Curse Of The Soap Opera
One of Thailand’s most cherished ancient temples is called Wat Chaiwatthanaram (Chai-wat-an-aram). For the most part, people walk around that magnificent structure and by no means would they ever start walking on top of the thing.
But then, in 2018, the temple suddenly started seeing 10,000 tourists a day, many more people than had come in the past. The reason for the mass of tourists was because it had been featured in a very popular soap opera called “Love Destiny.” This had been watched in translation all over Asia.
Tourists even turned up wearing traditional Thai costumes, because that soap opera depicted older times.
That was fine, but these new tourists went a bit too far and started climbing all over the temple, and in doing so, destroyed parts of it. They weren’t exploring of course and only wanted to get that perfect shot for Instagram. The temple started looking like a scene out of World War Z, albeit the zombies were armed with smartphones.
Authorities didn’t put a cost on the damage, but when you’ve ruined parts of a cultural treasure, it’s an expensive cost to the country. The authorities eventually had to temporarily close the temple off to tourists so they could begin putting the parts back together.
8. Hangover Part 4
Ok, so again, this wasn’t about the money…and we’ll get to money soon, but this story is just too good not to tell.
Two British tourists in 2012 were on vacation in Australia and they decided that they’d visit Sea World. As anyone in their right mind would do, the pair thought it best to drink an entire large bottle of vodka each before they went to see the marine life.
We don’t really know what happened next, and neither do the drunk guys. What we do know is when they woke up the next morning, hopping around their hotel room was a penguin. One guy said to the other, “Mate, why is there a penguin in the room?”
CCTV had all the answers, and that showed that these two guys first set a fire extinguisher off in the shark enclosure. After that, they decided they wanted to take a swim with some dolphins.
Sometime later, they were in the penguin enclosure and that’s where they found a penguin named Dirk. They liked Dirk, and decided to sneak him out of place. Once in their hotel room, they took some selfies with Dirk and then the drunks collapsed.
The pair were arrested and had to pay around $1000 in fines. Dirk was returned, and Sea World’s main concern was that those guys were pretty close to jumping into the polar bear enclosure. That would have been what you call a mortal selfie.
7. It Seemed Like A Good Fit
In 2017 a British family took their small child to see an exhibit that was an 800-year sandstone coffin. It is believed that this coffin had once been the resting place of a British monk.
Obviously, you’re not supposed to touch something that old, but the family wanted to take a pretty morbid photo of their child lying in the thing. That didn’t end well, and the coffin fell over, breaking a part of it. That family is still at large, but the good news is, that the cost of fixing the coffin was only $130.
6. Parental Guidance
In 2014 a sculpture called “Angel in Waiting”, created by a famous Chinese artist was on show at the Shanghai Museum of Glass. This thing had been painstakingly put together with tiny fragments of glass and it took the artist 27 months to complete.
What happened next is beyond belief. Two mothers of two boys took their little angels to see the sculpture, but then asked the boys to go and play with it. The mothers actually videoed this.
Not surprisingly, the kids brought the whole thing down and it smashed into small pieces, rendering it completely unfixable. The kids actually yanked the precious artwork from the wall, as the mothers kept their smartphones trained on them.
The media didn’t say how much this sculpture was worth, but given that the artist was well-known and the fact it took over two years to make, we are thinking it was quite expensive.
At an exhibition in Miami in 2019 there was one piece of art that has boggled the minds of many. That’s because the art work consisted of a banana duct-taped to a wall. This piece of transcendent art was the brain-child of an Italian artist named Maurizio Cattelan.
Yep, you might be thinking that you could have created that, but somehow a French collector actually bought the work for $120,000.
One day a man was walking by this piece of art when he decided to take the banana off the wall and eat it. Now only the wall was left, so did that mean the thing was destroyed?
Well, what is even more confounding is the museum said it wasn’t a big problem because a new banana could replace the one in the man’s stomach. The guy was pulled aside, but he was never charged with a crime.
The artist has since done another ‘banana on wall’ work and that one was sold for $150,000. Let’s remember that the art consists of a single, normal, garden variety banana and a bit of tape.
Please don’t ask us why this is happening, because, frankly, we have no idea.
Now for some really expensive damage.
4. He Just Needed A Hug
In 2018, an American family took their child to an exhibition held at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Kansas. Everything was going well until their young son saw a statue and decided to give it a hug.
What happened next is the thing fell over and broke into pieces, although thankfully the child wasn’t hurt. The bad news is that the statue, called “Aphrodite di Kansas City”, was valued at $130,000. It was smashed so badly that it could not be repaired.
So, who was at fault? The parents said not them because something that valuable should have had a guard rail around it. The city and the artist thought differently, but we’re not sure if that family ever had to pay any money.
This is what the mother said about the hug, “Maybe my son hugged a torso because he’s a loving, sweet nice boy who just graduated from preschool.”
3. The Souvenir Taker
We are going to call the cost of this… priceless.
It happened in 2008 and a Finnish tourist had travelled all the way to that place we call Easter Island. We are sure you’ll all know that this place is famous for those giant head statues that are known as “Moai.”
There are something like 900 of these statutes on the island and they date back 1,000 years. To say the least, they are a monumental achievement and are currently a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We are quite sure that every single one of our intelligent viewers would know that you don’t mess with these things, but that Finnish tourist might have been a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
The tourist went up to one of the statues and decided he wanted to take a piece home with him as a souvenir. He yanked at the ear and indeed bits came off, if not in small fragments.
The guy was caught and he was looking at a seven-year prison sentence, but it seems the authorities were lenient and fined him just $18,000.
If you think that’s expensive, keep reading.
2. The Painting Needed My Input
In 2012, a Polish man was visiting the Tate Modern Gallery in London. What the museum didn’t know is that this guy had come to do some of his own handiwork.
His plan was to “improve” a very famous painting called “Black on Maroon.”
The painting was created in 1958 by an American artist named Mark Rothkoin, and while it might look rather dull to some observers, it’s actually worth 15-20 million dollars.
That Polish man walked up to it and scrawled over the artwork his name, the number 12, and the words, “a potential piece of yellowism.”
The gallery wasn’t exactly impressed with this addition and the Polish guy was prosecuted. He ended up spending 18 months in a British prison. After his release, the guy said, “I apologize to the British people for what I did. I suppose I wanted to change the art world but of course I did it in a very, very wrong way.”
Restoration took almost two years and that itself cost $200,000, but now Black on Maroon is in perfect condition once again. Graffiti can be removed, but large holes and rips are problematic.
1. The Destroyers
A painting called “The Actor” by the renowned artist Pablo Picasso had hung peacefully in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1952, but then in 2010, The Actor had a hole ripped right through it.
What you have to understand is that this piece of art was part of Picasso’s valuable early works, and when a woman fell into the thing and ripped it, it was worth over $100,000,000.
The people who were tasked to repair it said with time they could do a good job, but the outcome would be a noticeable line where the 7 inch tear had been.
We looked at what art experts said about damaged paintings and they said you can’t always say how much a piece of damaged art will lose in value, but one expert said typically it might depreciate 10 or 20 percent, which for a hundred million dollar painting means 10 or 20 million. Add on to that the restorations costs.
We just can’t say how much that tear cost, but it could be in the millions. Since this was a total accident the woman who fell into the painting was not charged. We don’t think clumsiness is a crime these days.
In 2019, another Picasso was beat up, and this time the work was sliced with a knife. The painting in question was called “Bust of a Woman”.
From what we can see that painting is still undergoing surgery in England, but as the damage was quite severe we have to wonder if it will ever get the $26 million it was said to be worth before a man decided to knife it.