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A Parent's Worst 'You Break It, You Buy It' Nightmare

It's the stuff of nightmares: Your kid is holding a drink in his right hand, walking through an exhibit, until he catches his foot and breaks his fall with a $1.5 million-valued artwork, leaving a fist-sized hole at the bottom of the piece.


That's what happened to a 12-year-old boy in Taiwan this past weekend at the "Face of Leonardo: Images of a Genius" exhibition, which includes portraits of Leonardo and shows 55 rare paintings.

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The still life he landed on is a 350-year-old oil on canvas work called "Flowers" by Italian master Paolo Porpora, a leading artist in baroque-style paintings. "Flowers" is 78 inches tall and depicts flowers in a vase.

According to the Web Gallery of Art, a database of European fine art, "Flowers" is the only signed Porpora.

But the organizers won't ask the boy's family to pay for the restoration cost. (Feel free to exhale.)

Sun Chi-hsuan, the exhibition organizer, said the boy was not to be blamed and that the painting was insured. "The boy was probably too concentrated in listening to what the guide was saying, and therefore stumbled," he said.

"Once these works are damaged, they are permanently damaged ... we hope that everyone can protect these precious artworks with us," TST Art of Discovery said in a post on the exhibition's official Facebook page.

This isn't the first costly art accident we've heard of. A man tripped over his shoelace and fell down the staircase in a museum in Cambridge, breaking three 300-year-old Chinese vases in 2006. Another man got a six-year prison term for damaging a Monet painting in the National Gallery of Ireland in 2012. Even casino mogul Steve Wynn elbowed a Picasso masterpiece in 2013.

"When I told the curator, he was so shocked that for two to three minutes he couldn't utter a single word," Sun said. "But he was actually most worried that the boy and his family would put too much pressure on themselves."

We hope the 12-year-old will still nurture an enthusiasm for art, despite starting off on the wrong foot.

Images via TSA Art of Discovery Co

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