work:
Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue 111
artist:
Barnett Newman
location:
Stedelijk Museum; Amsterdam
date:
1986

Gerard Jan van Bladeren who later described himself to authorities as schizophrenic and psychotic, attacked Barnett Newman's Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III with a blade.

This attack was the beginning of a series of regrettable instances for the Stedelijk Museum which saw a further 3 prominent works willfully damaged. Indeed Mr Van Bladeren would 11 years later attack Cathedra another of Newman's works held in the same Museum.

Gary Schwartz in a book review of Dario Gamboni's The Destruction of Art.. uses the attack of Cathedra as a framework for his review writes that "Bladeren sees himself as a warrior, a samurai in the service of the Messiah"[1]

The subsequent restoration of the Newman work drew almost as much outrage and controversy as the actual crime. Costing somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000 crtitics claimed that subtle variations of colour had been lost and that furthermore, house paints and a roller were used. Lawsuits followed when the restorer, Daniel Goldreyer took offence to the then Museum director calling his work a "botched job". After a $100,000 settlement the costs of the restoration and the subsequent legal costs totaled one and a half million guilders or around one million American dollars.

[1] The Destruction of Art: Iconoclasm and Vandalism since the French Revolution
Gary Schwartz
Art in America. Issue: July, 1998
Review of Dario Gamboni's book

Restored, but Still Blue
CAROL VOGEL. January 4, 2002
A detail of the restoration of Cathedra which also mentions some of the restoration problems of "Who's Afraid of Red Yellow and Blue III"

Letter From the Lowlands
Abigail Esman 8/20/97
A story on some troubles apparent in the Dutch Art World which mentions the restoration troubles of "Who's Afraid of Red Yellow and Blue III"