Carmen Tisch, the 36-year-old woman accused of damaging a painting at the new Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, committed a senseless and unpredictable act of vandalism, if what prosecutors say is true.
On Dec. 29, she went to the museum, which opened in November, and punched one of the museum’s prize possessions, “1957-J-No. 2,” valued at a minimum $30 million, then slid down it before urinating on herself, according to police. It sounds like she was very drunk.
While the incident was a criminal act, it also represents an astonishing lapse in security at the museum. Denver granted the right to maintain and display work by Still, one of the most influential American abstract painters of the 20th century. That an out-of-control drunk was allowed anywhere near the museum’s priceless works of art is an extraordinarily embarrassing stain on its record, which is less than two months long.
The sad thing is that visitors to the museum can expect to endure scrutiny of the most intense sort from now on.