• Germany's news in English

Kippenberger artwork worth €800,000 'cleaned' away

The Local · 3 Nov 2011, 17:06

Published: 03 Nov 2011 17:06 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The cleaner at the city's Ostwall Museum went to work on the Kippenberger installation entitled "When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling" which was valued by insurers at €800,000 ($1.1 million), a museum spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The late contemporary master had created a tower of wooden slats under which a rubber trough was placed with a thin beige layer of paint representing dried rain water. Taking it for an actual stain, the cleaner scrubbed the surface until it gleamed.

"It is now impossible to return it to its original state," the spokeswoman said, adding that the damage had been discovered late last month and that the work had been on loan to the museum from a private collector.

She said that cleaning crews had orders to remain 20 centimetres (eight inches) away from artworks but it was unclear if the woman had received the directive from the external company that employed her.

Works of art not infrequently fall victim to zealous cleaners. In 1986, a "grease stain" by Joseph Beuys valued at around 400,000 euros was mopped away at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, western Germany.

Story continues below…


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:43 November 3, 2011 by Englishted
Now a lick of paint and it will be as good as new.
18:16 November 3, 2011 by Landmine
lucky the woman didn't carry of the thing thinking it was trash. It sure looks like junk that needs to be in the trash....
18:18 November 3, 2011 by twisted
I think the cleaning lady has a greater sense of art than Martin Kippenberger, whoever he is ....what a piece of trash, in my humble opinion.
18:56 November 3, 2011 by lordkorner
there is plenty of work for that cleaning lady in the so called modern art museum of the world...
19:46 November 3, 2011 by ovalle3.14
With a minijob salary, it will take her 27 lifetimes to pay it back.
19:53 November 3, 2011 by Englishted
"A cleaning woman at a museum in Dortmund who mistook a Martin Kippenberger sculpture for an unsightly mess has destroyed the valuable artwork beyond recognition."

A headline and a puzzle to be "beyond recognition." it must have been

recognisable before, as what?
20:06 November 3, 2011 by nemo999
Is the picture the before or after? How would you know? It looks like my first woodworking project when I was 11, My project was to be either a coat rack or a shoe tree, or maybe it was ladder. I did not get a very good grade, I would have done better if I had known that I could have gotten €800,000, and I would have even painted it.
20:14 November 3, 2011 by Englishted

Not when the minimum wage come into force in Germany ,then it will be ONLY 26 and a half years.
21:50 November 3, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
Tell you what, for a bargain price of 80,000 EU I'll be more than happy to replace it. I think I have some scrap wood in my garage.
23:09 November 3, 2011 by finanzdoktor
A grease stain worth 400,000 Euros??? Quick dad, get one of your dirty t-shirts and let's sell it as modern art.
23:49 November 3, 2011 by starsh3ro
how can people call that art?!?

thats what it looked like when i was 5 years old and playing with a hammer and nails for the first time, trying to built a house.
02:46 November 4, 2011 by CinemaNoir
When she began cleaning Venus de Milo, the statue had arms.....
09:45 November 4, 2011 by SebastianWoof
This is what happens when artistic interpretation

totally disconnects from reality.

The cleaning lady in her own mind was cleaning

a pile of trash.

God bless her artistic values.
10:21 November 4, 2011 by freechoice
Oh My God! How could this piece of dung worth 800,000 Euros?
11:33 November 4, 2011 by LancashireLad
Didn't they have to specifically engage a cleaner for Marcel Duchamp's "masterpiece" when people thought it was real?
11:46 November 4, 2011 by freechoice
payback time from German taxpayers?
14:51 November 4, 2011 by Englishted

Good one ,did she also arouse David?
17:11 November 4, 2011 by expatriarch
I despise most "contemporary" art, as it just reminds me we live in a world of bull-shlt. I am always up to and open minded to be convinced otherwise. But this "art" is a prime example of the "artist" being celebrated more out of inertia based on other works, or simply because he got a stamp of approval by those who sycophants sustain until the inertia became self-fulfilling. This "art" is the Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian of the art world; famous for nothing more than being banged on camera.
20:55 November 4, 2011 by kjello
I am artist myself and find this incident very funny indeed. I guess this action indicates that what is considered respective and valuable art today only can be understood by people who are trained to understand it value and importance. I guess we are talking about a part of society that has disconnected with most other people on earth. This is actually a reality-check worth every euro, and if you really think of it, this art-piece is finally a real art-piece, reflecting a common interpretation of the common man.
22:15 November 4, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
The cleaning person works in a museum with a bunch of weird looking modern "art". You'd think when she took the job she understood that their so-called "art" might look like a mess that needs cleaning, but know she shouldn't touch it. I bet nobody ever thought she'd be stupid enough to actual do it. I wonder if she's being held responsible?
00:19 November 5, 2011 by johnny108
It looks like a failing grade in a woodshop class.
10:30 November 5, 2011 by LGL
Garbage is garbage no matter what you call it
12:29 November 5, 2011 by George Palmer
What a complete pile of useless trash. How can it be called art?
23:20 November 6, 2011 by wenddiver
I thought it was a frame for tomato vines. I would not have damaged it, just moved it outside.
17:20 November 8, 2011 by twisted
Quoting Kjello - valuable art today only can be understood by people who are trained to understand it value and importance. I guess we are talking about a part of society that has disconnected with most other people on earth. This is actually a reality-check worth every euro, and if you really think of it, this art-piece is finally a real art-piece, reflecting a common interpretation of the common man. Unquote.

Really? I guess if you have to be trained to do something like recognize art, then works of art that people really do like isn't really are because most of the people haven't been trained....What a load of Shi..........
19:12 November 8, 2011 by rwk
Oh, no, people misunderstand...this art piece was the canvas for this person, working under the guise of 'cleaner', who created a NEW work of art. Subtractive art is a cutting-edge post-post-modern concept not well understood by those who don't have an advanced art education. A.C. Johnston's piece 'Inside Interior' , which is formed by the strategic removal of plug-sections of an on Antonov airplane, has been valued at several million euros by curators at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts. A companion piece by Johnston's understudy/partner Melissa McNixty 'Doughnut Holes On A Rope' is adjacent, in which a hemp rope was fashioned around 6cm cylindrical objects, and then the rope stiffened with starch and the cylinders removed, was evaluated at $770,000. These holes are definitely worth seeing.
Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd