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Man charged in Rothko painting defacement

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Tue October 9, 2012
A Mark Rothko painting was defaced at London's Tate Modern museum on Sunday.
A Mark Rothko painting was defaced at London's Tate Modern museum on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wlodzimierz Umaniec will appear in court Wednesday charged with criminal damage
  • A man defaced one of famed artist Rothko's Seagram murals on Sunday
  • The painting was hanging in London's Tate Modern museum

London (CNN) -- UK police charged a Polish man Tuesday in connection with the defacement over the weekend of a painting by famed artist Mark Rothko at a London museum.

Wlodzimierz Umaniec, 26, will appear in a south London court Wednesday on one count of criminal damage in excess of £5,000 (about $8,000), London's Metropolitan Police said.

The suspect, a Polish national who is also known as Vladimir Umanets, has no fixed address, police said. He was arrested late Monday in Worthing, on England's south coast.

The painting -- part of Rothko's Seagram mural series -- was hanging at London's Tate Modern museum when a man began tagging the canvas with black paint Sunday afternoon.

The alarm was raised and the museum was briefly evacuated.

Rothko, a Russian-American abstract expressionist, was commissioned to do a series of paintings for the Four Seasons restaurant of the Seagram building in New York in 1958. Though he started the series of murals, he famously reneged, deciding the swanky New York restaurant wasn't an appropriate home for his art.

Rothko rejected the commission but completed paintings stemming from the project, many of which made their way into the halls of museums.

The murals arrived in London as Rothko killed himself in 1970 and have been on display at many of the Tate's locations, as well as the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

CNN's Susannah Palk contributed to this report.

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