Climate activists take hammers to famous painting in London museum

Climate activists took hammers to a famous painting in London on Monday while calling for the U.K. to stop new oil and gas projects in the country.

Just Stop Oil attacked Diego Velázquez’s 17th-century painting “Rokeby Venus” with “safety hammers” on Monday as tourists viewed the artwork hanging in the National Gallery.

The pair of protesters, identified in the Just Stop Oil press release as Harrison Donnelly, 20, and Hanan, 22, took the hammers to the glass before shouting at museum patrons claims that millions will die due to new oil and gas leases.


“Women did not get the vote by voting; it is time for deeds not words. It is time to Just Stop Oil,” said Hanan, who was not identified by her full name by the organization.

“Politics is failing us. Politics failed women in 1914,” Donnelly, who was identified by his full name, said.

“Millions will die due to new oil and gas licenses. Millions!” Donnelly continued. “If we love history, if we love art, and if we love our families, we must just stop oil.”

The protesters then sat down in front of the rope they crossed to take hammers to a multimillion-dollar painting.


“Rokeby Venus” was slashed over a century ago by suffragettes in the push for women’s voting rights. It is worth an estimated £72.5 million.

A spokesperson for the National Gallery told Fox News Digital the pair who smashed the painting were arrested. They have been reportedly charged on suspicion of criminal damage.

“At just before 11am this morning (6 November 2023) two people entered Room 30 of the National Gallery,” a National Gallery spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “The pair appeared to strike The Toilet of Venus (‘The Rokeby Venus’) (1647-1651) by Velázquez with what appeared to be emergency rescue hammers.”

“The room was cleared of visitors and police were called. Two people have been arrested. The painting has now been removed from display and is being examined by Conservators. Room 30 was reopened just after 12.30pm with A Dead Soldier, Italian (17th century) replacing The Toilet of Venus.”

“Emmeline Pankhurst once said: ‘The argument of the broken window pane is the most valuable argument in modern politics,'” a Just Stop Oil spokesperson said in their press release. “Disappointingly little has changed since 1914.”

“From governments destroying the most beautiful character in history, to governments destroying our home, our families and our institutions in order to enrich criminal oil barons and corporations,” the spokesperson continued. “The only thing that has ever stood in their way is ordinary people, taking to the streets to demand change. We invite everyone to join us.”

Earlier this month, Just Stop Oil was booed and blasted as “stupid people” by an enraged crowd after the climate activists interrupted a “Les Miserables” show in London, forcing it to shut down.

The U.K.’s Metropolitan Police said five people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass after “demonstrators infiltrated the performance” on Wednesday night in London’s West End. 

Video taken of the incident begins with one protester standing at the front of the stage and unfurling an orange flag with a skull on it before shouting “Just Stop Oil!” at the audience. Behind her, the ensemble is belting out the chorus of the iconic song “Do You Hear the People Sing?”

More protesters are then seen onstage holding a banner with the phrase “Just Stop Oil” as the crowd starts booing and a production crew ushers the cast off the stage. 

Fox News Digital’s Greg Norman contributed reporting.

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