A Vandal Slashed a Multimillion-Dollar Christopher Wool. Turns Out it May Have Been the Owner’s Son.

The mystery of the slashed Christopher Wool canvas takes an Oedipal twist.

Aspen, Colorado. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The mysterious slashing of a $3 million Christopher Wool painting at an Aspen gallery nearly a year ago appears to have been the result of an explosive father-son feud. 

The son of the painting’s owner traveled from London to Aspen on May 1, 2017, with the sole intention of destroying the canvas, according to police and court documents. A day later, a bearded man wearing black clothes and sunglasses  walked into Aspen’s Opera Gallery and cut the work twice with a knife before fleeing the crime scene. Two days later, airport surveillance spotted the man returning to the UK.

Police later identified the painting’s owner as 74-year-old Barbados resident Harold Morley, who consigned the painting to the gallery via a shell company called Fallowfield Ltd.

The culprit, identified as the consignor’s son Nicholas Morley, was charged with felony criminal mischief and said that an arrest warrant was issued by a Pitkin Country District Court judge, the Denver Post reported on Friday.

In a bizarre twist, Morley, Sr., tried to convince the dealer to restore the painting and raise the price once the incident started to attract attention from local media. He wrote in a letter addressed to the gallery that the painting could “easily be restored” and insisted “we could even put it up for sale now for $3.5 million on the basis it is famous.”

Morley, Jr.’s, rap sheet already includes a hit-and-run conviction for killing an elderly couple while participating in the Gumball 3000 car race in Macedonia a decade ago. At the time, newspapers described his occupation as a wealthy property developer. His whereabouts are unknown.


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