A 36-year-old Denver woman has been charged with damaging a $30- to $40-million abstract painting at a Denver museum.
According to the Denver District Attorney's Office, Carmen Lucette Tisch was arrested at the Clyfford Still Museum at 1250 Bannock St., on Dec. 29. She was formally charged with felony criminal mischief, or vandalism, which carries a potential sentence of up to 12 years in prison.
Museum officials said she approached a painting, scratched, hit and leaned against it and then urinated on the floor next to the painting before she was stopped.
"It was 3:30 in the afternoon. To have a person allegedly so intoxicated that they walk into a facility like this and are alleged to have caused such damage is very unusual and very disturbing as well," said Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office.
Officials estimate it will cost $10,000 to restore the painting, which is owned by the City and County of Denver.
The painting, called 1957-J No. 2 (PH 401), is an abstract piece from the 1950s by Clyfford Still, one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.
Still died in 1980 and he specified in his will that his entire estate be given to an American city willing to establish "permanent quarters" dedicated to his work.
Denver was chosen by Still's wife as the home for the Clyfford Still Museum, which opened last November.
Tisch remained in jail Wednesday on a $20,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in Denver County Court on Friday to be formally advised of the charge against her.
Museum officials said they are cooperating with police and "further assessing the incident." They issued a further statement on Thursday that said, in part:
"The Clyfford Still Museum maintains the highest standard of security; our security officers acted swiftly and appropriately; the police were summoned immediately and the offender was taken into custody within minutes of the incident. We regularly evaluate our security procedures in order to protect both the Still collection and our visitors."
Public records indicate Tisch was arrested last January on armed robbery and theft charges in Arapahoe County.
The charges were dropped last month, the records show.
Records also show she was arrested in 2008 on a complaint of driving under the influence.
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