Climate protester sentenced to 60 days in prison for vandalizing National Gallery of Art exhibit

A New York woman was sentenced to 60 days in prison after pleading guilty to defacing an Edgar Degas sculpture at D.C.’s National Gallery of Art last year.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Joanna Smith, 54, of Brooklyn, New York, to serve 24 months of supervised release, serve 150 hours of community service, of which 10 hours must involve cleaning graffiti, and pay restitution for the damage to the Degas exhibit — in addition to the prison sentence.

Smith is also barred from entering D.C. and all museums and monuments for two years as of Friday, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia news release.

Smith pleaded guilty on Dec. 15, 2023 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)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said Smith, accompanied by co-conspirators, targeted the 1881 exhibit by smearing black and red paint on the sculpture’s case and base.

It said Smith, along with a co-conspirator, had previously researched the piece and specifically targeted it.

The paint was concealed by being carried in water bottles the pair brought 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.

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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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