Student seeking five minutes of fame jailed for attack on Pablo Picassos £20m Bust of a Woman at the Tate Modern

Standard_A student who punched a hole in a £20 million Picasso painting at the Tate Modern in a bid for his “five minutes of fame” has been jailed for 18 months.

Shakeel Ryan Massey, 20, armed himself with metal padlocks and wrapped his hands in scarves to smash through protective glass and damage the 'Bust Of A Woman' masterpiece on 28 December last year.

Shocked art lovers fled as Massey pulled the painting from the wall of the gallery and threw in on to the floor, telling a security guard he was carrying out an art “performance”.

Massey’s barrister, Glenn Harris, told Inner London crown court the Spanish architecture student was immature and has not offered a full reason for the attack.

“He did what he did foolishly for five minutes of fame, and he has brought shame on the family”, he said. “He was an immature artist making a point of who knows what. It’s really unjustifiable.”

Jailing Massey, Judge Jeremy Donne QC said he must serve a spell behind bars to deter others from carrying out similar acts of vandalism.

“It is difficult to conclude anything other than this offence was committed for the purpose of notoriety”, he said.

“Apart from the fact you are just 20, I have no evidence before me that you were particularly naïve or particularly immature.

“There is nothing to suggest you were anything other than a 20-year-old seeking fame.”

Prosecutor Ben Edwards told the court Massey entered the gallery just before 1pm and spent around three minutes looking at the Picasso before launching the attack.

The portrait, created by Pablo Picasso in Paris in 1944, depicts his famous muse and photographer Dora Maar in a semi-abstract style.

Mr Edwards told the court: “He dropped his coat on the floor and rushed towards the painting, punching the artwork and causing the protective glass to smash and ripping the painting in the middle.”

Massey, living in Willesden Green at the time, threw the padlocks on to the ground and tore the painting from the wall, before being detained by security and arrested.

The gallery said the painting is now undergoing 18 months of restoration, at a cost of up to £350,000, but the effect of the damage on its £20 million valuation is not yet known.

Massey had with him a handwritten note, calculating the amount of prison time he might face for the incident as well as details of his student finances.

The note also indicated that Massey was aware of a previous bout of criminal damage at the Tate Modern, when a man was jailed for two years for defacing a £50m Mark Rothko work in a supposed act of “artistic performance”.

Mr Harris said Massey has since given up his architecture degree in Spain, and may have been affected at the time of the offence by the 2016 death of his brother.

Sending him to prison and refusing to suspended the sentence, Judge Donne told Massey to reflect on the “pain” he has caused his family.

“I have concluded without hesitation the impact upon the public and the gravity of this offence, together with the need to deter others from this form of conduct requires the imposition of an immediate custodial sentence”, he said.