A 12-year-old Taiwanese boy taking in a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei became the living embodiment of an art lover's nightmare: The boy lost his balance near a painting worth more than a million dollars and caught his fall on its fragile canvas, leaving a fist-sized hole in the work.
In a CCTV video, the boy is seen turning away momentarily from "Flowers," a 17th century still life by Paolo Porpora. He then trips over a low rope barrier, which is presumably meant to keep viewers away from the oil-on-canvas, and begins to fall towards the painting. He catches his fall by reaching out to the nearest vertical surface ... which just happens to be the painting.
According to state news agency CNA, TST Art of Discovery Co. released the surveillance tape on Monday. Exhibition curator Andrea Rossi said he asked exhibitors to clear the boy of blame for what was clearly an unfortunate mistake. Exhibitors will ask their insurance company, and not the boy's family, to cover the cost of restoring the work.
The news agency says the painting is worth $1.5 million and was on display with more than 50 other works, including da Vinci's.
"All 55 paintings in the venue are authentic pieces and they are very rare and precious,” read a Facebook post from the exhibition translated by the Guardian. "Once these works are damaged, they are permanently damaged."
The exhibition also posted some images of the restoration in progress: