Two Climate Activists Who Glued Themselves to a Raphael Painting in Germany Have Been Hit With Fines

In August of last year, two members of the German environmental activist group Letzte Generation (Last Generation) entered the Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden and glued their hands to the frame of Raphael’s 16th-century masterpiece, Sistine Madonna. Now, officials in the city are calling for the protestors to be punished.  

The Dresden prosecutor’s office announced on July 21 that the two activists, Jakob Beyer and Maike Grunst, would be fined €1,500 ($1,600) each for the act, according to a report from the dpa German Press Agency. 

While the Raphael painting went unharmed, Beyer and Grunst’s demonstration left behind traces of glue on its frame. The gallery estimated the property damage to be around €2,300 ($2,560), and reported an additional €7,000 ($7,793) in income loss for closing the facility after the incident. 

Citing “damage to property that is harmful to the community,” the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, or SKD) filed a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office and initiated civil proceedings for damages. Beyer and Grunst were banned from all SKD locations. 

In a statement released after the demonstration, the two activists drew a connection between the climate crisis and Raphael’s painting.  

“The internationally known Sistine Madonna is a powerful symbol: Mary and Jesus look to the future with fear. They look forward to Christ’s death on the cross,” Grunst said. “An equally predictable death will also be the result of climate collapse. And all over the world!” 

The pair said their act was done in solidarity with fellow Letzte Generation member Christian Bläul, who had been arrested after gluing his hands to a motorway in Stockholm, Sweden a week prior. Bläul was sentenced to nine days in prison for the act. 

“The climate catastrophe is an unprecedented threat of incredible proportions,” said Beyer after the Old Masters Picture Gallery demonstration. “Killer droughts, crushing heat, all-consuming forest fires: this will increase dramatically in the coming years. Not only here in Germany… But worldwide!” 

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