Man who punched hole in £8m Monet painting is jailed

Jess Bown
Vandalised Monet work restored
Vandalised Monet work restored

A French polisher who punched a huge hole through a 1874 painting by Claude Monet worth £8 million has been jailed for six years by a Dublin court.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court found Andrew Shannon, 49, guilty of deliberately damaging Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat - even though he claimed he collapsed onto the painting as a result of a dizzy spell brought on by his heart condition.

Unexpected attack
When Andrew Shannon walked into the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin on June 29, 2012, he appeared perfectly calm.

Just minutes later, however, he punched his fist through the valuable Monet painting, causing damage that has taken two years to repair.

Shannon told security staff at the gallery that he had unstable angina and, according to the Daily Mail, was treated at the scene by a paramedic.

He also told police who interviewed him later that day that he had done nothing wrong. However, statements from witnesses to the attack undermined these claims.

Witness statements

Tourists Michael Williams and Toni Ashton, from New Zealand, witnessed Shannon damaging the Monet painting.

Both felt the attack was deliberate, with Ashton describing Shannon moving towards the painting in a "lunge" before dealing a "hammer" blow.

The fact that Shannon's fist made contact with the painting above his eyeline also showed that he raised his arm to cause the damage, while the court heard that he had numerous previous convictions, including ones for handling stolen maps worth £5,000.

Gallery ban

As well as jailing Shannon for six years, Judge Martin Nolan banned him from entering galleries or any buildings where paintings are publicly displayed on his release.

But the attack, which The Express suggests Shannon carried out to "get back at the State", has prompted the National Gallery in Dublin to take greater precautions with the now restored artwork.

The 55cm by 65cm oil painting can now only be viewed behind protective glass.

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