Jail for Just Stop Oil protestor

November 22 2022

Image of Jail for Just Stop Oil protestor

Picture: Guardian

A Just Stop Oil protestor who glued himself to a Van Gogh frame at the Courtauld Gallery has been jailed for three weeks. Louis McKechnie (above left) was jailed for three weeks, while his co-defendant Emily Brocklebank was given a suspended sentence. The Courtauld Gallery said the frame sustained about £2,000 worth of damage. The court case saw a curious attempted defence, that the protest had boosted the painting's value. From The Guardian:

A lawyer for the activists, who are part of a group waging disruptive protests until the government agrees to halt all new oil and gas projects, had asked a curator for the gallery if the action may have increased the value of the painting.

“Say the institute was to sell it on in 20 to 30 years, is it possible its value would now increase?” Francesca Cociani, defending, asked Karen Serres, a curator at the gallery.

Serres, who was the sole witness in the trial, replied: “Absolutely not,” adding that a work so famous as one by Van Gogh would not increase in value as a result.

Such works, which were owned by a trust which held items displayed at the gallery, could also not be sold and were intended for public display, she added.

The verdict and sentence probably gives us an idea of what will happen when the more high profile case of the National Gallery Van Gogh protest comes to court. I was interviewed on Radio 4's Front Row about the protests, along with The Art Newspaper's Louisa Buck, available here

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