Climate protester pleads guilty to vandalizing National Gallery of Art exhibit

A woman from New York has pleaded guilty to defacing an Edgar Degas sculpture at D.C.’s National Gallery of Art earlier this year.

Joanna Smith, 54, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of causing injury to a National Gallery of Art exhibit in the April 27 defacement of Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.”

In a Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 file photo, Edgar Degas “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” is displayed at Christie’s auction house, in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Smith, accompanied by co-conspirators, targeted the 1881 exhibit by smearing black and red paint on the sculpture’s case and base. Along with a co-conspirator, the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia said Smith had previously researched the piece and specifically targeted it, according to a news release.

The paint was concealed by being contained in water bottles the pair carried into the museum. Smith and her co-conspirator had recorded video statements before the vandalism, which incurred over $4,000 in repairs, according to the government.

Smith faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. She’s scheduled for sentencing on April 3, 2024.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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