Taipei, Aug. 24 (CNA) A Taiwanese boy on Sunday punched a hole in an extremely valuable Paolo Porpora painting at a Taipei exhibition after apparently tripping and trying to catch his balance on the artwork, according to the surveillance tape provided by the organizers on Monday.
The 12-year-old boy may have gotten lucky, however, because the organizers will not ask the boy's family to pay for the cost of restoring the damaged painting, displayed as part of "The Face of Leonardo, Images of a Genius" exhibition at Huashan 1914 Creative Park.
According to Sun Chi-hsuan (孫紀璿), the head of exhibition co-organizer TST Art of Discovery Co. (京銓藝術), the 200-centimeter tall painting is around 350 years old and valued at over NT$50 million (US$1.5 million).
In the tape, the 12-year-old was seen tripping over a rope barrier post while walking near the 17th century oil painting "Flowers."
As he stumbled toward the painting, he extended his arms to keep from falling, making contact with the artwork and leaving a hole the size of a fist.
Andrea Rossi, curator of the exhibition, was shocked after learning about the incident on Sunday, Sun said, adding that Rossi will discuss restoring the painting in Taiwan with a Taiwanese art restorer on Monday before shipping it back to Italy.
Sun said the boy was visiting the exhibition with his mother and was probably not aware of his surroundings because he was focused on the guided tour.
According to Sun, the boy was very nervous, but Rossi asked that the boy not be blamed and that the family not be asked to pay for the cost of the restoration.
Sun said the organizers will ask the insurance company to cover restoration costs and compensate the owner of the painting.
It is the first time that a valuable painting on loan in Taiwan has suffered such major damage.
"The Face of Leonardo, Images of a Genius" exhibition is displaying over 50 authentic paintings by prominent artists from the Italian Renaissance period to the 20th century, organizers said.
The exhibition was temporarily closed on Monday morning, before reopening in the afternoon.
"All 55 paintings in the venue are authentic pieces and they are very rare and precious. Once these works are damaged, they are permanently damaged...we hope that everyone can protect these precious artworks with us," TST Art of Discovery said in a post on the exhibition's official Facebook page.
Sun said an 80 centimeter distance was maintained between each painting and visitors so that visitors would not get too close to the artwork.
When the incident occurred, there were around 200 to 300 visitors in the venue, within the allowed limit, he said.
(By Christie Chen and Sabine Cheng)
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