A woman was arrested and charged Thursday with defacing Eugene Delacroix’s famous “Liberty Leading the People” painting at a satellite of the Louvre art museum in France.
The 28-year-old woman -- who is believed to be associated with the 9/11 truther movement devoted to proving the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America were an inside job by the U.S. government -- was apprehended by police after being witnessed scrawling “AE911” with a black marker across the bottom of the painting.
AE911 is a reference to Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, which describes itself as a nonprofit, “nonpartisan association of architects, engineers, and affiliates dedicated to exposing the falsehoods and to revealing truths about the ‘collapses’ of the 3 World Trade Center high-rises on September 11, 2001.”
Delacroix’s painting, completed in 1830, was on loan to the satellite museum in northern France from the mother ship museum in Paris. The iconic work depicts Lady Liberty leading troops during France’s July Revolution of 1830, which removed the Bourbon King Charles X from power.
“It had really become an icon, a sort of symbol of the republic which has remained famous throughout the ages,” Reuters quoted Vincent Pomarede, head of the Louvre’s painting department, as saying. “We have a very passionate relationship with all our paintings, and when something like this happens, it’s really hard to handle.”
Almost 20 years after the painting’s debut, it became the symbol of revolution. Then, in 1871, it became a part of the French national consciousness with the rise of the Third Republic.
Louvre officials confirmed they were able to save the painting as the black-marker ink did not penetrate the first layer of protective varnish. The graffito stretched more than a foot across the bottom.
The group cited by the suspected vandal is dedicated to proving New York's World Trade Center was taken down not by airplanes hijacked by terrorists, but by explosives planted in the buildings before the attacks. In promulgating this theory, it produced a 2-hour-plus documentary available via YouTube.
The organization denied any involvement in the vandalism last week, writing on its site: "We do not know if this act of vandalism was done in reference to our organization. Whether or not this is true, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) condemns and deplores the defacing of this priceless work of art and all public and private property."