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Man charged with vandalizing Picasso masterpiece

By the CNN Wire Staff
June 23, 2012 -- Updated 2024 GMT (0424 HKT)
A vandal was captured on a cell phone video spray-painting a Picasso painting in a Houston museum.
A vandal was captured on a cell phone video spray-painting a Picasso painting in a Houston museum.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Suspect identified in vandalism of Picasso painting in Houston
  • He has not been found, assistant district attorney says
  • Museum officials expect the painting to hang again

(CNN) -- The young man wanted in the vandalism of a Picasso masterpiece at a Houston museum has been identified and charged, authorities said Friday.

Uriel Landeros, 22, was captured on a cell phone video spray painting a bull and the word "Conquista" in gold onto Pablo Picasso's "Woman in a Red Armchair," Houston Crime Stoppers said in a statement. "Conquista" is Spanish for "conquest."

The video was uploaded to YouTube, and a Crime Stoppers tip identified Landeros, the statement said.

Landeros, who has not been apprehended, is a University of Houston student known to spend time at a local art studio, said Harris County Assistant District Attorney John Lewis.

Caught on video: Man spray paints Picasso

Landeros was charged with criminal mischief and felony graffiti, both third-degree felonies, Lewis said. Warrants have been issued for his arrest.

The student has numerous ties to the Houston area and investigators suspect he is still in the area, Lewis told CNN.

Earlier this week, a museum spokeswoman said the 1929 painting was expected to hang again soon.

"The painting went directly to the on-site conservation lab down the hall," said museum spokeswoman Gretchen Sammons. "The damage is being undone and the prognosis is excellent."

Menil Collection Director Josef Helfenstein called it an "unfortunate incident."

"It threatened the public's ability to enjoy a wonderful painting and violated the bonds of trust that enable museums to share great works with their visitors," Helfenstein said.

Vandalized Picasso ready to hang again

Viral vigilantism, Tony Hawk style

CNN's Alan Duke and Melissa Abbey contributed to this report.

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