Oil protesters seem in courtroom after throwing soup at Van Gogh work

Activists from ‘Just Stop Oil’ tape their hands to the wall after throwing soup at van Gogh’s painting ‘Sunflowers’ at the National Gallery in London, Britain October 14, 2022.

Just Stop Oil | Reuters

The climate activists who threw soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s famous ‘Sunflowers’ painting on Saturday have appeared in a London court on criminal damage charges, multiple outlets have reported.

The two women protested as part of the Just Stop Oil campaign group and pleaded not guilty during two short hearings at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

After throwing two cans of tomato soup over the Van Gogh oil painting on Friday, protesters also taped themselves to the gallery wall. They were removed by specialists and taken into custody, according to the London Metropolitan Police.

A spokesman for the National Gallery confirmed that the painting, which is one of the iconic versions of “Sunflowers” painted by Van Gogh in the late 1880s, was undamaged. It has an estimated value of $80.99 million.

“There is some minor damage to the frame, but the painting is undamaged,” the rep told CNBC. The painting was covered in glass and it was cleaned and returned to the National Gallery on Friday afternoon.

Just Stop Oil has been protesting in London for the past two weeks, and the group said in a press release that their actions were “a response to government inaction on both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis”.

“What is worth more, art or life? Is it worth more than food? Is it worth more than justice? said an activist in a video of the event.

Just Stop Oil has drawn widespread criticism from environmental groups and opposition Labor Party politicians after the protest.

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