London — Environmental protesters on Friday threw tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting at the National Gallery in central London, videos posted on social media showed.
Just Stop Oil said in a statement that two protesters threw two cans of Heinz Tomato soup over the painting at 11:00 a.m. (6 a.m. Eastern) to demand that the U.K. government halt all new oil and gas projects.
In a tweet, the activist group blamed the current economic turmoil and the climate crisis facing the world on fossil fuels, asking: “Is art worth more than life? More than food?”
London’s Metropolitan Police said officers arrested the two protesters for criminal damage and aggravated trespass after they “threw a substance over a painting” at the gallery on London’s Trafalgar Square.
BBC News said the the gallery had confirmed that the painting was covered by glass, so it wasn’t damaged.
A video posted on Twitter by the Guardian newspaper’s environment correspondent Damien Gayle and retweeted by the eco-activism group showed the incident, with the two young protesters gluing themselves to the wall after hurling the soup.
“Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?” asked one of the protesters.
In the video, someone can be heard yelling “oh my God” as the soup hits the canvas, and another person shouts “security?” as soup drips from the frame onto the floor.
The protest group said the painting had an estimated value of $84.2 million.
In June, two different activists from Just Stop Oil glued themselves to another van Gogh painting at London’s Courtauld Gallery. They said they’d targeted the painting, van Gogh’s “Peach Trees Blossom,” to highlight the impact of climate change as Provence, the French region depicted in the painting, sweltered along with much of southern Europe through record heat and drought.
Vincent van Gogh
Oil and Gas
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