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National Gallery boss says security cuts not to blame after Gainsborough damaged

The director of the National Gallery insisted that security cuts have not placed priceless works of art at risk after a Gainsborough masterpiece was slashed by a visitor.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi said The Morning Walk, a 1785 painting by Thomas Gainsborough said to be worth at least 10m, would be back on public display as soon as possible.

Gallery conservationists are currently repairing the damage after a vandal used a sharp instrument, believed to be a drill bit, to make two long scratches on the work, on Saturday afternoon.

The perpetrator was apprehended with the help of visitors, triggering the evacuation of the East Wing of the central London gallery.

Reports suggested that the collection was more vulnerable to vandalism with gallery assistants or warders , required to guard two rooms, rather than one . Security was outsourced to the private company, Securitas, in 2015.

But Dr Finaldi said: I absolutely disagree . There has been no change in the way our operation has run in the gallery since we had contractors in.

He added: All our protocols worked exceptionally well . Security dealt with the incident extremely effectively and the public were kept safe . We have a very strict bag searching policy.

But inevitably as a result of this, and with such a precious collection, we will keep security under review.

The damage could have been worse . The scratches didn t go all the way through the canvas, Dr Finaldi told the i . It is relatively straightforward to deal with.

We are consolidating the pigment which has been lifted as a result of these scratches and repairing the damage .

I m confident we can get it back on public display quickly.

The incident was shocking for those in the gallery, said the director, who praised the members of the public and police who helped staff apprehend the vandal.

National Gallery Boss Says Security Cuts Not To Blame After Gainsborough DamagedThe new Gallery B opens to the public on Wednesday (photo National Gallery)

The Morning Walk depicts a wealthy young couple, Mr and Mrs William Hallett, both 21, strolling through woodland.

It formed the backdrop to a scene in the James Bond film Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, which takes place in the Gallery s Room 34.

Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed address, was appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday charged with causing criminal damage.

A unique display of paintings by the Flemish artist Rubens, hung opposite works by his Dutch counterpart, Rembrandt, will launch the first new exhibition space created at the National Gallery in 26 years.

National Gallery Boss Says Security Cuts Not To Blame After Gainsborough DamagedRubens and Rembrandt display in New Gallery B National Gallery, London

Gallery B, which opens to the public on Wednesday, will add an additional 200 square metres of display space to the ground floor.

The inaugural free show, Rubens and Rembrandt , creates a dynamic visual dialogue between the two great 17th-century masters.

Though the pair probably never met in person, their works will meet face-to-face, hung on opposing walls in the show designed to illuminate connections and contrasts between the artists.

The show feature nine works by Rubens and 11 paintings by Rembrandt, who was influenced by the older Flemish artist, from the National Gallery s extensive collection of Dutch and Flemish art.

Alongside the launch of the 1m Gallery B, Gallery A, previously open every Wednesday afternoon and one Sunday per month, will now be open to the public daily.

Visitors can now explore all of the Ground Floor Galleries and progress up to the Main Floor whilst enjoying a continuous viewing experience, the Gallery said.

The last new display space to open at the Gallery was the Sainsbury Wing in 1991.


Madison Square Garden security chief fired over Charles Oakley altercation

Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan has fired his top security chief following Wednesday s altercation between former New York Knicks1 star Charles Oakley and arena security personnel during a game at the famed Manhattan arena. Frank Benedetto, the senior vice president for security at the Madison Square Garden Company, was fired on Friday morning, a source told DNAinfo New York2. Oakley was arrested during the first quarter of Wednesday s game against the Los Angeles Clippers after a clash in the stands with arena security personnel near Dolan, who owns the Knicks.

The 53-year-old shoved security guards before they pulled him away from his seat behind the baseline . Fans chanted Oakley ! Oakley ! in support of the beloved power forward, who played for the Knicks from 1988-98 and helped them reach the 1994 NBA3 finals, but has had a poor relationship with the team because of his criticism of Dolan. The NYPD said Oakley was arrested on three counts of assault, all third degree . Police gave him a summons for a desk appearance at a later date.

Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner, the Knicks said in a statement issued the night of the game . He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City police department .

He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon. Oakley said during an ESPN Radio interview on Thursday that he had been in his seat for just a few minutes when he was surrounded by security, denying that they approached him after he shouted at Dolan.

Now I m four rows from this guy, so I m going to walk in this place and just start hollering, James Dolan ! James Dolan ! I mean, that s embarrassing, man . I did not do none of that, Oakley said . I didn t know the man was sitting in front of me at first until they walked over there.

Oakley said he has been told that Dolan must be informed by security whenever he is in the arena, and that MSG staff follow him when he leaves his seat to go the bathroom. But the Knicks said he was causing trouble Wednesday even before security reached his seat.

There are dozens of security staff, employees and NYPD that witnessed Oakley s abusive behavior, the team said in a statement . It started when he entered the building and continued until he was arrested and left the building . Every single statement we have received is consistent in describing his actions . Everything he said since the incident is pure fiction.

The 6ft 8in Oakley was a rugged enforcer openly appreciated by teammates, from Michael Jordan in Chicago to Patrick Ewing in New York, and he remains respected by current players. LeBron James4 and Dwyane Wade5 posted pictures of Oakley on their Instagram pages, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers said it was difficult watching his former Knicks teammate being dragged away and handcuffed during the first quarter of Wednesday s game.

Listen, he was my teammate and he was a great teammate, Rivers said . I don t know what happened . Obviously they had to do what they had to do . They were in the right . Security has to do what they have to do . But at the end of the day it s still your teammate .

So that was tough.


  1. ^ New York Knicks (
  2. ^ told DNAinfo New York (
  3. ^ NBA (
  4. ^ LeBron James (
  5. ^ Dwyane Wade (

Underdog uprising: from security guards to presidents

Ghana s opposition leader has already claimed a famous and historic victory in today s presidential elections, even though there won t be any official results for at least two days. But the success of Gambia s new president Adama Barrow who worked as a security guard in North London has provided something of a role model for Ghanaians here with political ambitions of their own . And so we decided to ask Joseph Afrane, who is also a security guard here, and who writes a widely-read blog on Ghanaian politics for his views.