Climate activists in Austria today poured a black, oily liquid over Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece ‘Death and Life’ at Vienna’s Leopold Museum.
Two members of the group ‘Last Generation’ threw the dye over the 1915 painting before one proceeded to glue himself to the glass protecting the masterpiece.
A security guard at the museum managed to restrain one of the activists before police arrived at the site.
Museum staff are now concerned that Klimt’s painting could have been damaged in the protest.
‘Restorers are working to determine whether the painting protected by glass has been damaged,’ the museum’s spokesman Klaus Pokorny said.
The ‘Last Generation’ group defended the protest, saying in a tweet that they were protesting ‘oil and gas drilling,’ which they called ‘a death sentence to society.’
Numerous masterpieces across Europe have been attacked in recent weeks in protests at the lack of action against climate change.
The group called for a reduction in speed limits across the Austrian road network which they claim would save 460 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
The organisation said they targeted the exhibition because it was sponsored by the Austrian oil industry, who paid to allow free access to the museum.
The eco activists said on Twitter: ‘There can be no clean art with dirty money involved!’
In footage shared by the group on social media two men can be seen pouring a black, oily liquid on the famous Klimt painting.
One of the activists can be heard shouting that ‘we have known about the problem for 50 years – we must finally act, otherwise the planet will be broken.’
‘Stop the fossil fuel destruction. We are racing into a climate hell,’ he added.
After the attack, police arrived at the museum and the black liquid was quickly cleaned off the glass protecting the painting, Austria Press Agency reported.
Despite thorough controls at the Leopold Museum’s entrance, the activists succeeded in bringing the liquid inside by hiding it in a hot water bottle under their clothes, the agency reported.
Admission to the Leopold Museum was free on Tuesday as part of a day sponsored by the Austrian oil and gas group OMV.