The British artist Anish Kapoor has described the repeated vandalising of his monumental sculpture Dirty Corner when it was exhibited last summer in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles as “an inside job”.
The trumpet-shaped steel work was installed outside the French royal palace in June 2015. It caused controversy after it was nicknamed “the queen’s vagina”, reportedly by the artist, although he later denied ever using the term himself.
On 17 June vandals splashed the inside of the work with yellow paint. After it was cleaned, it was defaced again, this time with anti-Semitic graffiti.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Kapoor said he “spent a large amount of money” removing the offensive slogans. He described the response of officials at Versailles as “pathetic” and added: “I believe [the vandalism] was an inside job.”
After the sculpture was cleaned a second time, it was defaced yet again with more anti-Semitic graffiti. The phrases daubed on included “SS blood sacrifice” and “the second rape of the nation by deviant Jewish activism”.
This time Kapoor, whose mother is Jewish, wanted to leave the graffiti in place to highlight intolerance in France. His decision was reportedly supported by the French president, François Hollande. But after the Versailles municipal councillor Fabien Bouglé filed a complaint with the local public prosecutor, a tribunal in Versailles ruled on 21 September that the graffiti should be removed immediately. Kapoor then covered the scrawls with gold leaf.
“I’d made three reports to the police [about vandalism] and to this day have had no response from them,” Kapoor told the South China Morning Post. “The councillor managed to get a court hearing within hours. I’ll say it again—it was an inside job.”
The Palace of Versailles did not respond to a request for comment.