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Picasso Defaced: Evidence Builds Against Alleged Menil Collection Vandal

Though the Houston Police Department tells Art Attack that its investigation is ongoing as of Tuesday afternoon, Uriel Hernandez Landeros seems to make it clear on social media that he's the one responsible for defacing a Pablo Picasso painting at the Menil Collection.

He even has some supporters of his alleged act.

On June 13, a man outfitted in a hoodie entered the gallery containing Picasso's Woman in a Red Armchair and spray-painted a bullfighter killing a bull and the word "Conquista" onto the 1932 oil on canvas.

A witness, who appears to be Landeros's pal, documented the event on a cell-phone camera.

On June 14, Joshua Gonzalez Salinas posted a link to the video with the caption "FRESH POLITICAL REVOLUTIONARY ART" on the Facebook event page for "Thee Anunnakis: Now Coming." The group art show showcased artwork by Landeros at 2500 Summer Street, Studio 4B, on June 16.

As the Press's Jeff Balke previously reported, Landeros boasted of his act on his Facebook wall.

On Tuesday afternoon, Landeros's friend James Perez posted the following comment to Landeros's still-public Facebook wall: "Finally a [sic] artist with some balls!!!! Congrats"

Additionally, in a Tweet dated March 29, Landeros has something to say about the late Cubist master.

According to court records, Landeros, who lists Edinburg, Texas as his residence, was arrested on March 9, 2008 by Hidalgo County law enforcement for carrying less than two ounces of marijuana. Landeros, who turned 22 on Sunday, pleaded guilty to the Class B misdemeanor in exchange for probation.

As far as a potential punishment for the alleged Menil Collection vandal, Donna Hawkins, assistant District Attorney at the Harris County District Attorney's Office, tells Art Attack that the perpetrator could be faced with some stiff charges.

"If the painting could not be restored, the charge would be a criminal mischief over $200,000 -- a first degree felony," says Hawkins. "The range of punishment for the defendant would be five to years or life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine."

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen