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Objects in Berlin Museums Damaged by Unknown Individuals

In Berlin, unknown culprits have damaged sixty-three objects in four museums located on Berlin’s Museum Island. It happened on October 3rd, 2020, which was Germany’s Reunification Day holiday. Until today, the museums and the police kept it a secret.

Berlin, October 21st, 2020 (The Berlin Spectator) — Friederike Seyfried, the director of Egyptian Museum on Berlin’s Museum Island, was shocked two and a half weeks ago, when she was told about damaged objects in several museums, including hers. Someone applied an oily fluid on valuable exhibits all over the place.

Perpetrator’s Knowledge

Different kinds of objects were damaged on purpose. Paintings in the National Gallery are the only kind of art that was affected indirectly only. Some frames were damaged. Berlin’s State Office of Criminal Investigations (LKA) has been on the case since October 5th. The decision not to go public at first was taken for several reasons.

First of all, the museums had to establish which objects were damaged and inform the donors and owners. The investigation strategy the police chose was another reason to keep it a secret until today. One of the investigators in charge refused to give out detailed information about the fluid that was used, also because it is supposed to remain perpetrator’s knowledge only.

Thousands of Tickets

“We did not expect the vandalism we saw outdoors to come inside”, Friederike Seyfried said. On Museum Island, graffiti and other kinds of damage are being reported all the time. People also leave their waste all over the place quite often. But what happened on October 3rd is a first, at least in Berlin.

The investigator Karsten Frohl stated, once the LKA had been on the case, it had found out that there had been more than 3,000 visitors on Museum Island on Reunification Day. More than 2,000 tickets at been sold on site. Those who purchased those did not leave their names, while the visitors who bought 1,400 online tickets did.

Fluid on Sarcophagi

A total of 654 persons who booked the latter tickets were contacted by e-mail and asked whether they could provide information about anything unusual they might have seen at those four museums on October 3rd. In front of TV cameras, Frohl asked those who purchased anonymous tickets back then to come forward in case they noticed anything suspicious.

According to the ‘Zeit’ weekly, which reported about the case first, what happened at four museums on Museum Island was “one of the most extensive attacks on art objects and antiques in Germany’s post-war history”.

The oily fluid was sprayed on sarcophagi, stone sculptures, among other objects. Experts have already begun to work on getting rid of the visible stains the perpetrators caused. So far, the extent of the damage in currency is unknown.