The art world is reeling after a vicious melee between art aficionados turned deadly at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Witnesses say that an argument broke out between two groups of art critics who then used bollards, furniture and priceless artworks as weapons against each other when things escalated.
One group, thought to be fans of the impressionist style of art, approached another group of gallery patrons, believed to be lovers of the surrealism movement. An argument is believed to have broken out with things turning up a notch when one woman slapped another to shocked gasps of other gallery patrons.
With only limited elderly security, believed to be due to art funding cuts, there wasn’t much stopping both groups as fists and furniture started flying, according to several eye witnesses…
“It was horrible. One woman had another man in a headlock and was repeatedly punching him in the face and screaming things like ‘Dali was a talentless cunt’ and ‘Marcel DuCHUMP’. I had to get my kids out of there quickly, we thought we were going to get really badly hurt. We can’t believe people are dead… over what? Art? Such a waste.”
Police were called and it took them over an hour to calm the situation as tense stand-offs and threats to damage more art were yelled out of barricaded gallery doors. Negotiators were only able to gain access after both groups were granted their demands for ‘decent coffee and pastries’.
Estimates are putting the damage at just under $5 million which is expected to rise once forensic teams have given the all-clear to assessors. Art belonging to Picasso, Ernst, Monet and Cézanne is thought to be among over a dozen paintings either damaged or defaced with crude remarks and phallic drawings.
Six people were arrested, with another four taken to hospital in a supercilious condition. Police have not yet named the deceased, but are expected to release a statement shortly.
The gallery will be closed for the rest of the week with a spokeswoman suggesting anyone wanting to view other art collections can do so on the world wide web.