Houston man caught vandalizing Picasso painting via YouTube

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jun 23, 2012

Houston police are searching for a man now charged with vandalizing a 1929 Pablo Picasso painting in an act that was caught on video.

Uriel Landeros of Houston was charged Friday with felony graffiti and criminal mischief for spraypainting the artwork titled “Woman in a Red Armchair” at the city’s Menil Collection.

Crime Stoppers says it’s offering a $5,000 reward for tips leading to the 22-year-old’s arrest.

The painting was damaged June 13. The act of vandalism was caught in a 24-second video taken by a bystander and posted on YouTube.

It shows a man dressed in black holding a stencil up to the work of art and spray-painting it.

He left behind an image of a bullfighter, a bull and the word “conquista,” the Spanish word for conquest.

Police are now trying to track down the 22-year-old Landeros, who has been charged with criminal mischief and felony graffiti, reports CBS Affiliate KHOU. Both are third-degree felonies punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The charges could be upgraded to first-degree felonies, depending on how much it costs to restore the painting.

Landeros has dark hair and eyes, is about 5’8 and weighs about 180 lbs. He has several tattoos.

Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva told KHOU that investigators are reviewing both the museum’s surveillance video and the YouTube video. When asked earlier this week if police think the vandal and witness were working together, she replied, “We’re taking all the information and we’re looking at all aspects of the incident.”

She would not say whether police had spoken to the witness who shot the video.

The YouTube poster described the video as a tribute “In Dedication to the art beast Pablo Picasso.”